As mid-level discussions take place this week between China and the U.S. amid an ongoing trade war, new reports indicate that President Trump might be prepared to escalate the situation should an agreement not be reached in the near future.
According to a report from Michael Pillsbury, who President Trump has referred to as a leading authority on China, the president believes he has so far exercised restraint with regard to tariff rates.
“Does the president have options to escalate the trade war? Yes, the tariffs can be raised higher. These are low-level tariffs that could go to 50 percent or 100 percent,” he said, as reported by the South China Morning Post.
Pillsbury said an “all-out trade war” is a real possibility.
The Office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer confirmed to FOX Business on Thursday that negotiations between the U.S. and China are ongoing. They are expected to resume on Friday.
The thirteenth round of high-level negotiations is scheduled to take place in D.C. next month.
President Trump said last week a deal would not happen unless it was a good and fair agreement for the U.S.
“We cannot go back to a situation where [the U.S.] giving hundreds of billions of dollars to China becomes standard fare. Not going to happen,” he said before a crowd during a rally in North Carolina.
In a gesture of goodwill, Trump recently made the decision to delay a new round of tariff increases on $250 billion worth of goods from China, which were scheduled to take effect on Oct. 1. The two-week postponement was made to accommodate the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. The increases will take effect on Oct. 15, instead.
These increases will follow the new round of tariffs that went into effect on goods from both countries at the outset of September. The U.S. implemented tariffs worth 15 percent on a host of goods from China, a decision that was met with countermeasures.
China subsequently filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO), asking it to facilitate “consultations” with the U.S. to reduce or end tariffs.
The countries were close to striking a trade deal in the spring, but the Chinese ultimately decided not to move forward because of some of the demands the U.S. was making. Since then there has been little progress toward reaching a comprehensive agreement.