President Donald Trump took another step toward a full-blown trade war with China on Friday, saying he’s “ready” to impose tariffs on all $505 billion worth of Chinese goods the U.S. imports annually.
“I’m ready to go to 500,” the president told CNBC in an interview.
He doubled down on his arguments that the U.S. has historically been “taken advantage of” by China and other countries through currency manipulation and unfair trade practices. “I’m not doing this for politics; I’m doing this to do the right thing for our country,” Trump said. “We have been ripped off by China for a long time.”
So far, the administration has imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods, and the total is set to rise to $50 billion in the coming weeks. Trump has also threatened 10 percent tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of imports, including many consumer goods like computers and handbags, which could go into effect as soon as late August, pending a review process.
China has responded in kind, levying duties on an equal dollar amount worth of U.S. imports. In total, China imported $188 billion worth of U.S. goods in 2017, so eventually it won’t be able to match Trump dollar for dollar; however, it has threatened increased regulation and disruption for American companies doing business in the country. Escalation from both sides threatens both the footwear industry, since the majority of shoes sold in the U.S. are imported from China, and the consumer, who could see prices rise to cover the additional tariff costs.
In the same interview, the president repeated the inaccurate statement that the U.S. is running a $507 billion deficit with China (the correct figure, per Census Bureau data, was $335.7 billion in 2017). He also exaggerated the deficit with the European Union as $150 billion, rather than the accurate $101 billion.