Trump dubs himself ‘Tariff Man,’ threatens tougher stance with Chinese

Dubbing himself “Tariff Man,” President Trump on Tuesday suggested the 90-day trade truce he and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to at the G20 could be extended while a broader deal was negotiated.

But he also warned that tougher tariffs could be on the horizon if the Chinese don’t play ball.

“The negotiations with China have already started. Unless extended, they will end 90 days from the date of our wonderful and very warm dinner with President Xi in Argentina. Bob Lighthizer will be working closely with Steve Mnuchin, Larry Kudlow, Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro. on seeing whether or not a REAL deal with China is actually possible,” Trump wrote in part of a four-tweet message.

“If it is, we will get it done. China is supposed to start buying Agricultural product and more immediately. President Xi and I want this deal to happen, and it probably will. But if not remember, I am a Tariff Man,” the commander-in-chief wrote about the agreement.

“When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN,” he continued.

“But if a fair deal is able to be made with China, one that does all of the many things we know must be finally done, I will happily sign. Let the negotiations begin. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

While Trump hails tariffs as money-makers, critics note that tariffs are mostly paid for by US consumers as the costs of Chinese imports rises.

“Tariffs are taxes on American families,” tweeted GOP Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, one of his party’s few Trump critics.

And China doesn’t pay the tariffs — large importers like automakers or big box retailers do, either taking a loss or passing them on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

Trump and Xi on Saturday agreed to the cease-fire in a trade war that has seen the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods between the world’s two largest economies disrupted by tariffs.

The two leaders said they would hold off on imposing additional tariffs for 90 days starting Dec. 1 while they seek a solution to their beefs over trade.

The US expects China to take immediate action to cut tariffs on US car imports and end intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers as the two countries move toward a broader trade deal, Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, said Monday.

Team Trump said China would agree to purchase a not yet agreed upon, but very substantial, amount of farm, energy, industrial and other products from the US.

It also said China had agreed to start buying farm products from US farmers immediately.

China has made no direct mention of specific goods it will buy. Washington, but not Beijing, has also said China will cut import tariffs on American cars.

The appointment of Lighthizer, the hardline US trade representative, to lead the talks instead of Treasury Secretary Mnuchin puts one of the administration’s toughest China critics in charge.

Meanwhile, as Trump and White House officials tout the truce, Beijing has said little on a pact that cheered markets but left many questions unanswered.

China’s foreign ministry, the only government department that holds a daily briefing that foreign media can attend, has repeatedly referred questions on details to the commerce ministry, which has yet to say anything.

The commerce ministry is due to hold its weekly news briefing on Thursday.

A lack of detail from the Chinese side has left investors and analysts wondering if Trump’s exuberance is premature, and if details touted by the White House but left out of Chinese reporting on the agreement are in question.

One Chinese official told Reuters officials were “waiting for the leaders to return” before publicizing details.

Xi and his most senior officials, including the commerce minister and the country’s two top diplomats, are in Portugal, and due back in China on Thursday.

With Reuters

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