Trump defends China trade battle, vows deal will happen
President takes softer tone and appeals to Beijing to act
Washington — US President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended his trade war with China as tensions escalated and markets extended their losses, promising a deal with Chinese President Xi Jinping soon, even as fears escalated about a protracted battle.
In a string of early-morning tweets, Trump kept up his “America first” agenda in support of hefty tariffs and called on US companies to back him by shifting their businesses away from China. But he also softened his tone on soybeans and other agricultural products, appealing to Beijing to act.
“When the time is right we will make a deal with China,” Trump said. “It will all happen, and much faster than people think. Hopefully China will do us the honour of continuing to buy our great farm product, the best, but if not your country will be making up the difference,” he wrote in post addressing US farmers directly.
Last week, the head of the US department of agriculture said more aid was being planned for US farmers but gave no details.
World stock markets hovered near two-month lows on Tuesday, although slightly more optimistic comments from US and Chinese officials on trade brought some comfort a day after equities suffered their worst sell-off so far in 2019.
A day earlier, Trump said he would talk to Chinese President Xi Jinping at a Group of 20 summit in late June in Japan, and on Tuesday praised his “respect and friendship” with Xi.
Both sides had appeared close to finalising a deal in recent weeks before Trump last week hiked up tariffs to 25% from 10% on $200bn worth of goods imported from China. He has also threatened further duties of up to 25% on a further $300bn worth of Chinese imports.
China, in turn, has proposed tariffs on more than 5,000 American products.
Trump said on Tuesday he could make a deal with Beijing now, but would not be burned again and criticised China for scuttling a recent close deal with a last-minute attempt to renegotiate.
“We are in a much better position now than any deal we could have made,” he said, part of 10 tweets addressing the China talks, including a suggestion that the US Federal Reserve tie interest rates to China’s if Beijing lowers rates.
He said he saw his administration’s trade efforts with China as a model for US negotiations with other nations as he initiates talks with Europe and seeks to ratify a pact with Canada and Mexico.
“Other countries are already negotiating with us because they don’t want this to happen to them. They must be a part of USA action,” he said.