Donald Trump threatens China with new tariffs as coronavirus row deepens
The United States and China have recently negotiated a new trade deal, which the US president has said is of secondary importance.
President Trump’s administration has blamed China for COVID-19 and the effect the pandemic has had on the US.
Two US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a range of options against China were under discussion, but cautioned that efforts were in the early stages.
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One official told Reuters recommendations have not yet reached the level of Trump’s top national security team or the president.
One of the sources said: “There is a discussion as to how hard to hit China and how to calibrate it properly.”
Washington struggles with its ties with Beijing, as it imports personal protection equipment (PPE) from there and is wary of harming a sensitive trade deal.
President Trump has made clear that his priority is his concerns over China’s role in the pandemic.
Trump told reporters: “We signed a trade deal where they’re supposed to buy, and they’ve been buying a lot, actually.
“But that now becomes secondary to what took place with the virus.
“The virus situation is just not acceptable.”
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The Washington Post, citing two people involved in internal discussions, reported on Thursday that officials have discussed the idea of cancelling the US’ debt to China to retaliate over their lack of transparency.
Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser denied the report.
He told Reuters: “The full faith and credit of U.S. debt obligations is sacrosanct.”
President Trump, when asked whether he considered stopping Chinese debt payments, said: “Well, I can do it differently.
“I can do the same thing, but even for more money, just by putting on tariffs.
“So, I don’t have to do that.”
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In January, President Trump signed a first phase of a multibillion-dollar trade deal with China that cut tariffs on Chinese goods in exchange for Chinese purchases of American goods.
It also expects China to address US complaints on intellectual property practices.
Tariffs of up to 25 percent remain on some $370 billion worth of Chinese goods imports annually.
Keeping tariffs in place on Chinese goods allows him to say he is maintaining leverage over China for a Phase 2 trade deal.
The US economy has been majorly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their economic slump, the steepest since the last recession in 2008, was at a rate of 4.8 percent.
Much of the US economy shut down in March in an effort to contain the virus, triggering 26 million people to file for unemployment benefits.
Around 3.8 million American people claimed unemployment benefits in the last week.
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