This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Pradnya Joshi on politico.com on June 26, 2019.
US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he was prepared to impose additional tariffs on China if talks this week do not end in progress, but suggested additional duties could start at a lower amount of 10 per cent.
Trump has already imposed 25 per cent tariffs on US$250 billion worth of Chinese goods and has been preparing to levy duties on the remaining US$325 billion of goods the US imports from the country.
In an interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business News on Wednesday morning, the president said he might begin with a 10 per cent duty, if his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit does not end well.
“Phase 2 doesn’t have to be 25 per cent. It could be 10 per cent, which people can absolutely handle,” Trump said.
He also repeated his assertion that American consumers would not pay higher prices because of the duties – a contention that has been debunked by US retailers and importers who purchase the goods and are forced to absorb the tariff mark-up.
Over the past week and a half, more than 300 people testified in Washington before officials at the Office of the US Trade Representative, mostly to plead against the imposition of additional tariffs.
Trump said China has devalued its currency to make its exported goods cheaper, so consumers are not facing higher costs. “We’re not paying anything for it,” he said. “I view tariffs differently than a lot of other people.”
The president is expected to leave on Wednesday for Osaka, Japan, for the Group of 20 Leaders Summit, which brings together the world’s largest economies.
Trump administration officials are negotiating with Chinese officials before the expected Trump-Xi meeting on Saturday.
It is widely expected the two leaders will announce that the two countries will hold off on further tariffs or other forms of retaliation while they continue talks to end trade tensions.
“We’ve had conversations over the last few days. They are negotiating,” Trump said, adding that he is content if the talks result in a truce or if they produce more tariffs.
“My attitude is I’m happy either way,” he said. “My plan B is maybe my plan A. My plan B is that if we don't make a deal, I will tariff – and maybe not at 25 per cent but maybe at 10 per cent.”