Trump threatens China with tariffs on a further $300 billion of goods

US President Donald Trump speaking to the media boarding Air Force One at the Irish airport of Shannon on June 6, 2019.
US President Donald Trump speaking to the media boarding Air Force One at the Irish airport of Shannon on June 6, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

SHANNON, IRELAND (REUTERS) - US President Donald Trump threatened to hit China with tariffs on "at least" another US$300 billion (S$409 billion) worth of Chinese goods but said he thought both China and Mexico wanted to make deals in their trade disputes with the United States.

Tensions between the world's two largest economies have risen sharply since talks aimed at ending a festering trade war broke down in early May.

While Mr Trump said on Thursday (June 6) that talks with China are ongoing, no face-to-face meetings have been held since May 10, the day he sharply increased tariffs on a US$200 billion list of Chinese goods to 25 per cent, prompting Beijing to retaliate.

"Our talks with China, a lot of interesting things are happening. We'll see what happens... I could go up another at least US$300 billion and I'll do that at the right time," Mr Trump told reporters on Thursday, without specifying which goods could be impacted.

"But I think China wants to make a deal and I think Mexico wants to make a deal badly," said Mr Trump before boarding Air Force One at the Irish airport of Shannon on his way to France for a D-Day commemoration.

China will fight to the end if the United States decides to escalate trade tensions, the Commerce Ministry said on Thursday. 

The use of “ultimate pressure” has caused serious setbacks to trade negotiations, and the future direction of talks would depend on the Washington, Mr Gao Feng, the ministry’s spokesman, said at a weekly media briefing. 

 
 
 
 

China will have to adopt the necessary countermeasures if the United States decides to unilaterally escalate trade tensions, Mr Gao said.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned on Wednesday that escalating tariff threats were sapping business and market confidence, and could slow global growth that is currently expected to improve next year.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is scheduled to meet with People's Bank of China Governor Yi Gang this weekend at a gathering of G20 finance leaders in Japan, the first face-to-face discussion between key negotiators in nearly a month.

Mexican and US officials are also set to resume their talks in Washington on Thursday aimed at averting an imposition of tariffs on Mexican goods.

After saying that "not enough" progress on ways to curb migration was made when the two sides met on Wednesday, Mr Trump told reporters on Thursday that Mexico had made progress in the talks but needed to do more.

He reiterated that 5 per cent tariffs on all Mexico's exports to the US due to start on Monday will go ahead if progress is not made. The tariffs can rise to as much as 25 per cent later in the year.