Business World

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Trump clarifies on trade - tariffs should be higher

Debate: President Donald Trump at the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS
Debate: President Donald Trump at the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

Josh Wingrove and Jennifer Jacobs

US president Donald Trump acknowledged having second thoughts on escalating the trade war with China - only for his top spokeswoman to later say he meant he regretted not raising tariffs even more.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham now says the media misinterpreted the president's initial remarks.

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She explained that Mr Trump doesn't regret starting a trade war but he does have second thoughts on whether he should have hit the Chinese even harder.

"The president was asked if he had 'any second thought on escalating the trade war with China.' His answer has been greatly misinterpreted.

Mr Trump responded in the affirmative - because "he regrets not raising the tariffs higher," Ms Grisham said in a statement to reporters.

The initial remark drew worldwide headlines because Mr Trump is rarely one for second-guessing himself, and instead goes bigger on his ideas in the face of criticism.

Ms Grisham's explanation is more in the line with the President Trump the G7 know, and who often drives them to distraction.

The remarks came as Mr Trump was meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday at the G7 summit.

He was asked whether he had "any second thoughts on escalating the trade war" with China, after he announced higher tariffs late Friday.

"Yeah, sure, why not?" Mr Trump replied. Reporters asked again whether he had second thoughts. "Might as well, might as well," he replied, before reporters asked again.

"I have second thoughts about everything," he said.

The breezy acknowledgment from the president is the latest in the trade fight between the two largest economies, who continue to ramp up pressure as warning signs flash on the risk of a global recession.

Mr Trump announced on Friday he would hike existing tariffs, applied to about $250bn (€222bn) in Chinese goods, to 30pc from 25pc as of October 1.

He also said a new round of tariffs on $300bn in goods will be taxed at 15pc, up from 10pc.

The first batch of those tariffs will kick in from September 1.

Bloomberg

Irish Independent

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