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Trump Warns of ‘Plan B’ on China Trade: Billions More in Tariffs

President Donald Trump said substantial additional U.S. tariffs would be placed on goods from China if there’s no progress on a trade deal after his planned meeting with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the G-20 Summit in Japan.

“My Plan B with China is to take in billions and billions of dollars a month and we’ll do less and less business with them,” Trump said Wednesday during an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo.

Trump has previously said he may decide to raise tariffs on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese imports if he doesn’t like what he hears from Xi at this weekend’s summit in Osaka. The two leaders are expected to meet Saturday — something financial markets worldwide will be watching carefully.

U.S. stock futures pared gains after the president’s comments. Shares rose earlier after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reiterated he was “hopeful” for an eventual trade deal as leaders of the two countries prepare to meet at the G-20 summit.

An alternate course as the trade talks resume may be that U.S. suspends the next round of tariffs on the additional $300 billion of Chinese imports, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. If the tariffs on the broader set of goods does go into effect, it could be at a 10% rate rather than 25%, Trump said in the television interview Wednesday.

”My plan B’s maybe my plan A, my plan B is that if we don’t make a deal I will tariff, and maybe not at 25%, but maybe at 10%,” Trump said in the interview Wednesday.

Trump also said that he likes China and he likes Xi but “they have taken advantage of us for so long.”

“They devalue their currency like a ping-pong ball,” he said.

The talks between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies mark a critical juncture in their trade war, which has gone on for more than a year, and both sides have plenty to lose if it escalates. No detailed trade deal is expected from the leaders’ summit, a senior U.S. administration official said Tuesday. The goal of the meeting is to create a path forward for a trade agreement, after negotiations broke down last month.

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