Trump accuses China of vicious trade tactics amid escalating dispute
The US president is also set to meet EU chiefs for tough negotiations.
US president Donald Trump has accused China of “vicious” tactics on trade as he prepares for tough negotiations with European leaders in an escalating trade battle among world powers.
Mr Trump tweeted that China was specifically targeting US farmers with retaliatory tariffs because “they know I love & respect” them.
His comments came after his administration announced a plan to provide 12 billion dollars (£9 billion) in emergency relief for farmers who have been hit by the president’s trade disputes with China and other countries.
China is targeting our farmers, who they know I love & respect, as a way of getting me to continue allowing them to take advantage of the U.S. They are being vicious in what will be their failed attempt. We were being nice - until now! China made $517 Billion on us last year.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2018
Addressing the China trade relationship, Mr Trump wrote on Twitter: “They are being vicious in what will be their failed attempt. We were being nice – until now!”
Chinese president Xi Jinping said at an international summit in South Africa that the world faces “a choice between co-operation and confrontation”, in remarks that criticised escalating US tariffs on goods from China and other major trading partners.
Mr Xi warned that those who pursue “economic hegemony” will “only end up hurting themselves”.
The president is to meet European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and other European officials at the White House as their trade dispute threatens to spread to car production.
Mr Trump has placed tariffs on imported steel and aluminium, saying they pose a threat to US national security, an argument that the European Union and Canada rejects. He has also threatened to slap tariffs on imported cars, trucks and car parts, potentially targeting imports that totalled 335 billion dollars (£255 billion) last year.
The European Union has warned that it will retaliate with tariffs on products worth 20 billion dollars (£15 billion) if Mr Trump puts duties on cars and car parts from Europe.
On Tuesday, the US president suggested in a tweet that “both the U.S. and the E.U. drop all Tariffs, Barriers and Subsidies! That would finally be called Free Market and Fair Trade! Hope they do it, we are ready – but they won’t!”
The Trump administration has imposed tariffs on 34 billion dollars (£26 billion) in Chinese goods in a dispute over Beijing’s high-tech industrial policies.
China has struck back with duties on soybeans and pork, affecting mid-western US farmers in a region of the country that supported the president in his 2016 campaign.
Mr Trump has threatened to place penalty taxes on up to 500 billion (£380 billion) in products imported from China, a move that would dramatically ratchet up the stakes in the trade dispute involving the globe’s biggest economies.
The moves have been unsettling to members of congress in districts dependent upon manufacturers and farmers affected by the retaliatory tariffs.
Every time I see a weak politician asking to stop Trade talks or the use of Tariffs to counter unfair Tariffs, I wonder, what can they be thinking? Are we just going to continue and let our farmers and country get ripped off? Lost $817 Billion on Trade last year. No weakness!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2018
The Agriculture Department said it would tap an existing programme to provide 12 billion dollars in direct payments to farmers and ranchers hurt by foreign retaliation to Mr Trump’s tariffs and other assistance, such as the purchase of excess crops.
With congressional elections coming soon, the government action underscored administration concern about damage to US farmers from Mr Trump’s trade tariffs and the potential for losing House and Senate seats in the Midwest and elsewhere.
The administration said the scheme was just temporary.
Agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue said: “This is a short-term solution that will give President Trump and his administration the time to work on long-term trade deals,” as administration officials argued that the plan was not a “bailout” of the nation’s farmers.