Trump Says He's A "Tariff Man" If No China Trade Deal Possible

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Trump said on Monday, however, "We are dealing from great strength, but China likewise has much to gain if and when a deal is completed".

Trump has long accused China of unfair trade practices that hurt Americans and the US economy. That's added on top of a 15 percent tariff that Beijing charges for imports from the rest of the world, leaving US auto exporters facing a 40 percent levy at the Chinese border.

No one's quite sure how Trump plans to get his way (and, in turn, pass on the cost of these tariffs to the US people), but what's also grabbing attention is how Trump phrased one of his tweets.

Trump's economic team has spun his knee-jerk protectionism as a tactic created to negotiate "better" trade deals - but so far, those better trade deals don't seem to be stronger than the status quo ante. The tariff had been previously set at 15%, but was ratcheted it up to 40% as part of a series of retaliatory measures taken by China against the US.

Since a great deal of social media simply cannot look away from these tweets, you can guess what happened next. "I am a Tariff Man", Trump wrote on Twitter. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has suggested to Axios that he would support legislation that limits the president's ability to impose tariffs.

It's not clear. In its statement announcing the deal, the White House said China agreed to purchase a "not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other product", and will start buying "agricultural product" from American farmers immediately. Per the president's post, a delegation of United States officials will hold negotiations with the Chinese side.

While Mnuchin said the president reserves the right to escalate tariffs should negotiations not pan out as planned, he cast the weekend's talks as a breakthrough in the administration's efforts to check China and said the discussion included everything from purchasing more USA goods to intellectual property, to currency manipulation. But it raised its tariff on USA cars to 40 percent earlier this year in retaliation for Trump's tariffs on Chinese goods.

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He said the negotiations with China would focus on "whether or not a real deal with China is actually possible". In his Twitter posts on Tuesday, Trump said they might need an extension if the 90-day timeline didn't prove sufficient.

Trump administration officials struggled to explain the deal, while Beijing has yet to confirm the terms.

The only actual achievement so far, apart from a commitment to talk, was China's winning of an extension of the window before the proposed increase in the tariffs cuts in, which also pushes back the point at which Trump's threat to impose tariffs on China's remaining $US267 billion of exports to the USA might be imposed.

Trump and Xi also agreed to immediately begin negotiations on structural changes with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture, according to the White House statement.

Isaac Boltansky, a policy analyst at research and trading firm Compass Point, said Tuesday that there was already a "lingering sense of uncertainty" about the truce and there was "still reticence among some in the investment community".

They said they would hold off on imposing additional tariffs for 90 days starting on December 1 while they sought a solution to their trade disputes. "This agreement is a short-term alleviation of trade tensions, but we caution that this is a reprieve rather than a resolution".

And that person is President Trump.

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