President Donald Trump said Thursday that he would decide whether to impose a new round of tariffs on $325 billion worth of Chinese goods following the G20 summit in Osaka at the end of June.
Trump’s comments came during a joint appearance with French President Emmanuel Macron, not long after the U.S. president announced he might ratchet up his trade war with China to “at least $300 billion” on Chinese goods.
“Our talks with China, a lot of interesting things are happening. We’ll see what happens… I could go up another at least $300 billion and I’ll do that at the right time,” he said earlier. “But I think China wants to make a deal […].”
During his joint press conference with Macron on Thursday, Trump was asked when he might impose those additional tariffs on China.
“When am I going to? I will make that decision I would say over the next two weeks. Probably right after the G20. One way or the other, I will make that decision after the G20. I will be meeting with President Xi and we’ll see what happens. But, probably planning it sometime after G20,” he said.
China’s Commerce Ministry was quick to respond, stating Thursday morning, “If the United States willfully decides to escalate tensions, we’ll fight to the end.”
Trump has been ramping up trade tensions with China for months now, and though he claimed Thursday that discussions with the country were ongoing, Reuters noted the two nations had not met since the president last slapped China with tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports on May 10.
China quickly retaliated, raising tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods in direct response to that move.
The president is currently engaged in a risky back and forth with Republican lawmakers, who say his decision to impose massive tariffs has hit their constituents and home states hard.
More recently, Trump announced he would impose a 5% tariff on all Mexican goods if the country did not do more crack down on immigration to the United States, with that number continuing to rise each month until it hits 25% on October 1. The White House has specifically said Mexico must do more to stop migrants crossing into the country from Guatemala and must be responsible for all those seeking asylum in the United States, ensuring they remain on the Mexican side of the southern border as they await their cases. Additionally, the White House said Mexico must work to crack down on transnational gang activity.
As Politico notes, experts say such a move would likely endanger U.S. businesses — with some choosing to eat the costs before passing them onto consumers — as well as the economy. Despite this, Trump has claimed the tariffs will actually work in the United States’ favor.
“The higher the Tariffs go, the higher the number of companies that will move back to the USA,” he tweeted earlier in the week.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are weighing whether to try to block Trump’s tariffs, threatening to embarrass Trump.
“Tariffs are not the right way to go and there’s no reason that millions of farmers and ranchers and manufacturers and small businesses in Texas should pay the price and face billions in additional taxes,” Texas Sen. Tex Cruz (R) said this week.
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) echoed that sentiment. “I’m not in favor of this. The president needs to rethink it,” she said. “The president needs to understand that we’re opposed to these tariffs. We don’t think it’s a smart way forward. The president has his own opinion, he’s a tariff guy but I think we have a lot of folks in opposition.”
Some Republicans have rejected that pushback, however, stating their loyalty to the president, whose tariffs they claimed were working.
“We’re making a mistake if we oppose the tariffs,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC). “Because we’re already seeing positive movement. You could lead Mexico to believe that all they have to do is wait out a resolution of disapproval. So I think it slows down the pace of negotiations.”
This article has been updated to clarify that the proposed 5% tariff on Mexican goods would increase each month up to 25% in October.