President Trump announced late Thursday that he had directed US trade officials to find another $100 billion in tariffs to impose on China, in addition to the $50 billion already announced. China ran a $375 billion goods trade surplus with the United States in 2017. Trump has demanded that China cut the trade gap by $100 billion. “Rather than remedy its misconduct, China has chosen to harm our farmers and manufacturers” Trump stated. China’s Ambassador to the US said in response, China will “fight the US at any cost”.
According to a White House press brief, President Trump has instructed Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to, “use his broad authority to implement a plan to protect American farmers and agriculture.” Perdue told reporters earlier in the week that a plan was coming together but was not at liberty to discuss details.
American and Chinese officials have both indicated a willingness to find a negotiated solution to their trade differences. Top government officials are expected to hold talks before American tariffs on Chinese imports will take effect. White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro tells CNBC that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will lead the talks.
Navarro says discussions will focus on getting to someplace “where China stops doing what it’s doing in terms of aggressive attacks on our economy.” He didn’t provide more specific details to CNBC about the timing or locations for future talks between the two countries. Larry Kudlow, head of the White House National Economic Council, says America is trying to rally pro-market countries to push back against China’s unfair trade practices. Kudlow says the administration will have more to say about its effort to recruit other major economies to support the U.S. position.