Trump renews China tariff threats ahead of G20 summit

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Chinese employees work on socks that will be exported at a factory in Huaibei in China's eastern Anhui province on June 22, 2018.Image source, Getty Images

US President Donald Trump has said he is likely to go ahead with a hike on tariffs currently imposed on Chinese goods.

The comments to the Wall Street Journal come as he is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of this week's G20 summit.

The tariffs would be raised from 10% to 25% on $200bn (£156bn) worth of goods.

Mr Trump also said he would hit the rest of China's imports to the US with tariffs if talks did not go well.

The US president said it was "highly unlikely" that he would agree to Beijing's request to hold off on the planned tariff rise, the newspaper said.

If negotiations were unsuccessful, Mr Trump said he would act on a previous threat to target additional Chinese goods with tariffs.

"If we don't make a deal, then I'm going to put the $267bn additional on," Mr Trump was also quoted as saying. That additional amount would be targeted with a tariff of 10% or 25%, he told the Wall Street Journal.

He said Apple iPhones and laptop computers imported from China could also be subject to tariffs.

'Classic Trumpism'

Analysis by Karishma Vaswani, Asia business correspondent

In a war, always keep your opponent guessing. That's the first rule of negotiation. And the more publicly you can declare your position, the better.

That's exactly how you should read President Trump's comments to the Wall Street Journal about going ahead with fresh China tariffs if Beijing doesn't play ball.

This is classic Trumpism. Show strength so you can scare your opponent into doing what you want. But the Chinese aren't like anyone the president has dealt with before.

Mr Trump's upcoming meeting with President Xi at the G20 was meant to help dissipate tensions between the two sides. But with these comments, President Trump has left very little room for China to walk away from the table with a deal and save face: something Beijing will need to do to satisfy its domestic audience.

So it's highly unlikely we will get a successful deal between the two at the G20 - and that means the rest of us will be the poorer for it.

'Deeply disappointing'

Mr Trump launched a trade war with China this year, which has seen the US hit about half of all Chinese imports into the US with tariffs.

China has retaliated but has less room to manoeuvre as the US buys much more from China than it exports there.

Analysts say failure by the US and China to find common ground at the G20 could lead to a deterioration in the trade war, which is already hurting industries, and poses risks to the global economy.

"It is deeply disappointing the president wants to undermine his opportunity to create meaningful progress before the discussions even begin," said Jose Castaneda, spokesperson for the US-based Information Technology Industry Council.

The US president has signalled he wants to continue with this "short-sighted" trade war despite "the pain" Americans have felt as a result of tariffs, Mr Castaneda said.

"Imposing a new round of tariffs would cause a shock that will reverberate across America and the globe," he said.