WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States would raise tariffs on Chinese imports if no deal is reached with Beijing to end a trade war, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday, threatening an escalation of the spat that has damaged economic growth worldwide.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting at the White House, Trump said he had a good relationship with China, noting that China was “moving along.” However, he said China would have to make a deal “I like.”
“If we don’t make a deal with China, I’ll just raise the tariffs even higher,” he told a room filled with senior U.S. officials.
The United States and China have been locked in successive waves of tit-for-tat tariffs that have roiled financial markets and threatened to drag growth in the global economy to its lowest rate since the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
Hopes were high that a partial trade deal could be signed at a summit in Santiago, Chile that was scheduled for mid-November. The summit was canceled amid unrest in Chile and a path forward for a deal remains unclear.
Sticking points include how and when to reduce tariffs and how much U.S. agricultural products China would commit to buy.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said last week that the two countries were getting close to an agreement to end the 16-month-long trade war, but he gave no further details on the timing of a possible deal.
Still, Chinese state media outlet Xinhua said “constructive talks” were held by phone on Saturday between China’s Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and Susan Heavey; Writing by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot)