U.S. tariffs on China are likely to remain in place for a while even if a trade deal is reached, President Donald Trump told reporters on Wednesday.
“The deal is coming along nicely,” the president said about the ongoing trade talks with Beijing, noting U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will be heading to China within days to continue discussions.
“We’re taking in billions and billions of dollars right now in tariff money and for a period of time that will stay,” said Trump.
The president’s remark indicate that even if a trade deal is reached with Beijing, tariffs imposed by Washington could stay in place unless U.S. officials are convinced the Chinese are adhering to the terms of any agreement.
“They’ve had a lot of problems living by certain deals, the president noted on the White House South Lawn just before boarding the Marine One helicopter.
Tit-for-tat tariffs imposed last year ignited fears of a trans-Pacific trade war.
The United States and China, the world’s two largest economies annually trade more than a half-trillion dollars’ worth of goods. Chinese products sold in the United States far outweigh the value of those sent to China and that deficit alone represents about 80 percent of America’s overall in goods.
A pillar of the Trump presidency has been reducing that huge gap by negotiating bilateral trade deals and rebuilding the U.S. manufacturing base.
Trump is traveling Wednesday to an area in Ohio where General Motors is planning to shutter a car assembly plant, affecting about 1,500 jobs and undercutting the president’s manufacturing revival message.
Trump on Twitter has called for GM to keep the plant open.
Some trade analysts say Trump’s metals tariffs on Canada and Mexico, however, have hurt U.S. manufacturing, including making auto plants in this company (which also are owned by foreign manufacturers) less competitive.
Ohio, which Trump won in the 2016 election by eight percentage points, will again be a key battleground state in next year’s presidential election.
Polls in the Buckeye State, where the president relies on a strong base of working-class voters, show Trump’s approval rating slipping since he took office
At one of Wednesday’s stops in Ohio, Trump is visiting a plant that makes tanks for the U.S. Army.
The General Dynamics facility nearly closed six years after Army officials told Congress they did not need additional M-1 Abrams tanks.
Among those accompanying Trump on trip to Ohio are Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Secretary of the Army Mark Esper.