Trump says he expects to raise tariffs on US$200b of Chinese imports to 25%

Ahead of a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, US President Donald Trump said it was "highly unlikely" he would accept China's request to hold off on increasing tariffs. PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Donald Trump said on Monday (Nov 26) he expected to move ahead with raising tariffs on US$200 billion (S$275.05 billion) in Chinese imports to 25 per cent from the current 10 per cent and repeated his threat to slap tariffs on all remaining imports from China.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal four days ahead of his high-stakes meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Argentina, Mr Trump said it was "highly unlikely" he would accept China's request to hold off on the increase, which is due to take effect on Jan 1.

"The only deal would be China has to open up their country to competition from the United States," Mr Trump told the Wall Street Journal. "As far as other countries are concerned, that's up to them."

Mr Trump, who is due to meet Mr Xi on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires this week, said that if negotiations were unsuccessful, he would also put tariffs on the rest of Chinese imports.

"If we don't make a deal, then I'm going to put the US$267 billion additional on" at a tariff rate of either 10 per cent or 25 per cent, Mr Trump told the Wall Street Journal.

A Chinese official told reporters last week that the two leaders would look to set guidelines for future talks.

"The main issue is how to settle down the trade war," the official said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of preparatory negotiations.

"I am conservatively optimistic that can be done," he added.

Mr Trump said the next round of tariffs could also be placed on laptops and Apple Inc's iPhones imported from China, which are part of that US$267 billion list of goods not yet hit by tariffs.

Cellphones and computers, among China's biggest exports to the United States, have thus far been spared as the administration has sought to minimise the impact on US consumers.

The Wall Street Journal said the administration has been worried about a consumer reaction to such levies.

"Maybe. Maybe. Depends on what the rate is," Mr Trump said, referring to the possibility of tariffs on mobile phones and laptops, according to the Wall Street Journal. "I mean, I can make it 10 per cent, and people could stand that very easily."

Shares in Apple fell in after-hours trading after the interview was published. An Apple spokesman did not immediately respond to Reuters' queries.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has personally pressed the issue of tariffs with Mr Trump, telling the President that while there are valid concerns about US-China trade relations, tariffs are not the best way to resolve them.

Despite using contract manufacturers to make most of its products overseas, Apple has also sought to emphasise its contribution to the US economy, saying it plans to spend about US$55 billion in 2018 with its US-based suppliers.

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