Washington.- The president of the United States, Donald Trump, on Thursday criticized China for seeking to renegotiate the terms of a proposed bilateral trade agreement, although he said after receiving a letter from Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that a deal is still possible this week.
Trump made his remarks to reporters at the White House.
«It’s possible to do it,» the president said. «I did get last night a very beautiful letter from President Xi (saying), ‘Let’s work together, let’s see if we can get something done.'»
Trump has set a deadline of midnight Thursday for a deal to be struck with Beijing; otherwise, he said the US will raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent.
He also criticized Beijing for what he said were last-minute changes to a nearly concluded agreement that had begun to be crafted earlier this year.
«They renegotiated the deal. I mean they took, whether it’s intellectual property theft (from US companies doing business in China), they took many, many parts of that deal and they renegotiated. You can’t do that,» Trump said.
Nevertheless, he insisted that the US stands to benefit whether a deal is reached or not.
«I’m different than a lot of people. I happen to think that tariffs for our country are very powerful,» he said, adding that the US was not «going to be taken advantage of anymore.»
«We’re not going to pay China $500 billion a year. So we put very heavy tariffs on China as of Friday,» Trump warned.
The president said the 10 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of goods from China that Washington imposed on Beijing eight months ago had led to improved economic numbers for the world’s largest economy.
(China responded to that move by hiking tariffs on an additional $60 billion worth of US products.)
Trump also predicted that the economic reward would be far greater if customs duties are raised to 25 percent on Friday.
The chief trade negotiators for the US, Robert Lighthizer, and China, Vice Premier Liu He, began meeting early Thursday in Washington in a new round of talks aimed at clinching a deal.
«For 10 months, China has been paying Tariffs to the USA of 25 percent on 50 Billion Dollars of High Tech, and 10 percent on 200 Billion Dollars of other goods. … The 10 percent will go up to 25 percent on (May 10),» Trump wrote Sunday in an unexpected tweet that surprised Beijing and sent global stock markets tumbling.
The Chinese government, for its part, said Thursday it is fully prepared to defend its interests in the trade dispute with the US and threatened to retaliate if Washington goes through with the announced tariff hike.