Trump Says China Tariffs Will Remain For 'A Substantial Period Of Time'

Tariffs will remain
Trump gesticulating (Photo: Reuters)

President Donald Trump has again sent another signal talks to avert new Chinese tariffs aren't going as well as he's leading the world to believe.

Trump yesterday warned U.S. tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese exports are unlikely to be lifted anytime soon. He indicated the tariffs on China will remain even if the two countries reach a deal to end their trade war.

"We're not talking about removing them (the tariffs). We're talking about leaving them for a substantial period of time," said Trump Wednesday. "Because we have to make sure that if we do the deal with China that China lives by the deal because they've had a lot of problems living by certain deals."

Trump is eager for a deal that might improve his re-election chances in 2020, hence his continuing claims of progress when none is being made.

In February, Trump claimed the U.S. and China were "getting very, very close" to a deal. They were so close he was preparing for what he bragged would be a "signing summit" with president Xi Jinping in March.

That "signing summit" went nowhere as the Chinese lost enthusiasm for a Trump-Xi meeting after Trump walked away from negotiations with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un on Feb. 28.

Experts noted there has been no substantial progress in meeting Washington's demand for extensive structural changes to China's economy and the way it does business with the world.

The White House said the talks, which will be resumed next week after an impasse lasting weeks, are aimed at "achieving needed structural changes in China that affect trade between the United States and China."

The White House also wants a commitment from China not to artificially depreciate its currency, the yuan or renminbi, against the U.S. dollar. This step will have the effect of negating the impact of U.S. tariffs.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will leave for China next week for more discussions intending to finalize the elusive and hazy agreement - if any -- between both countries. It's expected a Chinese delegation again led by Vice Premier Liu He will then go to Washington for additional talks.

Negotiations remain on hold as both sides tried to figure out how to overcome intractable disagreements. The U.S. wants to ensure China will abide by any deal, which will be impossible without a mutually agreed on a mechanism to do do. That mechanism is not in place.

Despite knowing the talks are headed nowhere, Trump is again trying to sell them as a win for him.

"I think the talks are going very well," said Trump last week at the White House. He did, however, call the discussions "very complex."

The Trump administration continues to accuse China of stealing commercial information using cyber attacks. It also blasts China for forcing U.S. firms to hand over proprietary technology in exchange for access to Chinese markets.

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