NEW YORK – The United States and China are “close” to the first phase of an agreement to resolve their trade war, President Donald Trump said Tuesday, but he went on to warn that if the pact does not come to fruition he will not hesitate to impose more tariffs on Chinese imports.
“If we don’t make a deal, we’re going to substantially raise the tariffs,” Trump asserted in a speech before The Economic Club of New York.
According to the president, Chinese authorities are “dying to make a deal,” but he said his administration will only agree to a pact that benefits the US.
“We’re close. A significant ‘phase one’ trade deal with China could happen soon,” Trump said, without providing any details about the prospective accord, which the two sides have been working on for months.
Once again, Trump used very harsh language regarding Beijing, accusing China of “cheating” for years on trade, thus harming the US in a significant way.
“Since China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization in 2001, no one has manipulated better or taken advantage of the United States more,” Trump said. “I will not say the word ‘cheated,’ but nobody’s cheated better than China, I will say that.”
In any case, Trump said, he doesn’t blame Beijing but rather US leaders who allowed it to occur and he emphasized that the Chinese government is aware that the situation has now changed.
“The theft of American jobs and American wealth is over, they understand that,” the president said.
China was not the only target of Trump’s criticism in the trade area, and he went on to attack – among others – the European Union, accusing the bloc of imposing “terrible” tariff barriers on US goods.
“Many countries charge us extraordinarily high tariffs or create impossible trade barriers,” he said. “And I’ll be honest, the European Union – very, very difficult. The barriers they have up are terrible, in many ways worse than China.”
In addition, he defended the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement as one of his administration’s great successes and lambasted Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for not having brought the treaty to a vote so that it might be approved.
In his speech lasting about an hour, Trump also attacked the Federal Reserve, accusing it of putting the US at a “competitive disadvantage” with other countries.
The president complained about the current management of the US central bank, claiming that it raised the price of money too quickly and that it is not lowering interest rates into negative territory in comparison with other nations.
He went on to admit that putting US interest rates around zero would not necessarily be good for the rest of the world, but he said that he was not president of the world but rather of the US, implying that he would continue to push for policies and practices that benefit this country, even if they harm others.
The president also touted his economic management, emphasizing low unemployment rates, tax cuts and record index levels on Wall Street, noting that the Dow Jones Industrial Average had risen more than 50 percent since he has been in office, with the S&P500 index climbing more than 45 percent and the NASDAQ Index rising more than 60 percent, but he claimed that if the Fed had been willing to work more closely with him those increases could have been much higher.
He also said that his policies were helping the middle class and workers and he bragged that his administration had achieved an “economic boom” the likes of which has never been seen before.