Trump expects to move ahead with boost on China tariffs

By Bob DavisChinaThe Wall Street Journal

Larry Kudlow: Any China deal has to be in American interests

National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow on the state of the U.S. markets and economy.

Four days before a summit with China’s leader, President Trump said he expects to move ahead with boosting tariff levels on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25%, calling it “highly unlikely” that he would accept Beijing’s request to hold off on the increase.

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In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Trump said that if negotiations don’t work out, he would also put tariffs on the rest of Chinese imports that are currently not subject to duties.

“If we don’t make a deal, then I’m going to put the $267 billion additional on,” at a tariff rate of either 10% or 25%, Mr. Trump said.

Chinese officials have said their priority at the meeting between Mr. Trump and President Xi Jinping is to convince the U.S. to suspend the planned Jan. 1 increase in tariffs on $200 billion in imports from China to 25%, from 10% currently.

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The U.S. was unlikely to accede, Mr. Trump said.

“The only deal would be China has to open up their country to competition from the United States,” Mr. Trump said. “As far as other countries are concerned, that’s up to them.”

He said the tariffs could also be placed on Apple Inc. iPhones and also laptop computers imported from China. The administration has been worried about a consumer reaction should such items be subject to levies.

“Maybe.  Maybe.  Depends on what the rate is,” the president said, referring to mobile phones and laptops. “I mean, I can make it 10%, and people could stand that very easily.”

The mounting tariffs on Chinese imports have prompted many U.S. companies that export to the U.S. from China to examine whether they should put facilities elsewhere.

“What I’d advise is for them to build factories in the United States and to make the product here,” he said. “And they have a lot of other alternatives.”

One reason the Trump administration made a priority of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement was to encourage U.S. companies to shift their production from China to North America, if not the U.S.

Write to Bob Davis at bob.davis@wsj.com