- President Donald Trump on Tuesday doubled down on threats to increase tariffs against China.
- The comment cast further uncertainty on the fate of an interim trade agreement announced in October.
- By covering more consumer products, any further tariff increases would hit households harder than in previous rounds.
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President Donald Trump on Tuesday doubled down on threats to increase tariffs against China, casting further uncertainty on the fate of an interim trade agreement announced in October.
“If we don’t make a deal with China, I’ll just raise the tariffs even higher,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting.
The two sides have continued to hammer out the details of the first part of a deal intended to defuse a dispute that has led to punitive tariffs on thousands of products over the past year. The White House said last month that it included unspecified concessions from China on technology rules, farm purchases, and financial-sector access.
“There are talks on a daily basis between both sides,” a spokesperson for the Office of the US Trade Representative said.
But the state of negotiations has become increasingly uncertain in recent weeks. Early this month, Trump denied China’s claim that the US had agreed to lift some tariffs on Chinese products as part of a broader detente, even after administration officials appeared to indicate that such a move was under consideration.
“They’d like to have a rollback,” he said. “I haven’t agreed to anything.”
White House officials have since said the president was not ready to sign any deal with China, something that was initially expected to happen at an international conference in Chile this month that’s been canceled.
In addition to tariffs, which the US has sought to keep in place to enforce trade commitments, negotiators have clashed over import quotas. Trump has said China agreed to purchase up to $50 billion worth of agricultural products, more than twice what that country consumed from the US in 2017.
The Trump administration is still scheduled to increase tariffs on December 15, a move that would hit virtually all imports from China and have more pronounced effects on households than in previous rounds.