President Donald Trump said Thursday that tariffs are an “excellent” alternative to a trade deal with China, hours before Chinese officials were set to meet U.S. trade negotiators later in Washington.
Negotiators for the U.S. and China will meet at 5 p.m. ET, Trump said. He had set a midnight deadline to slap additional tariffs on China, though he has suggested that his administration might reverse its decision depending on progress in the negotiations.
“They’ll see what they can do,” Trump said at a White House event Thursday afternoon. “But our alternative is an excellent one.”
“It’s an alternative I’ve spoken about for years. We’ll take in well over a hundred billion dollars a year. We never took in 10 cents from China,” Trump said, referring to additional tariffs he promised to impose. “And I think it’ll be a very strong day, frankly. But we’ll see.”
Fact-checkers have said Trump’s claim that tariffs on China will yield $100 billion annually — a claim he had tweeted a day earlier — is inaccurate.
Trump added: “It was their idea to come back.”
But Trump struck a more optimistic tone when asked if he would speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping.”Well, he just wrote me a beautiful letter, I just received it, and I’ll probably speak to him by phone,” Trump said.
The president said Xi’s letter expressed a desire to come to an agreement. “Let’s work together, let’s get something done,” Trump said, describing the letter.
After Trump’s comments at the White House, stock indexes recovered from ground lost stemming from worries stirred up by his comment Wednesday night that China “broke the deal.” Before Trump’s remarks Thursday afternoon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had fallen more than 400 points.