- President Donald Trump on Wednesday attempted to pin blame for the sudden US-China trade-talk troubles on "very weak Democrats."
- Trump argued that Chinese officials had reneged on earlier commitments in an attempt to delay until after the 2020 election, when they might be able to negotiate with Democrats.
- On Sunday, Trump unexpectedly announced that the US planned to dramatically increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods come Friday.
- US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Monday said the abrupt announcement was a response to "an erosion in commitments by China."
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President Donald Trump on Wednesday attempted to pin the blame for the sudden stumble in US-China trade talks on the prospect of a Democrat retaking the White House in 2020, arguing that the Chinese would prefer to negotiate with one of his presidential competitors.
"The reason for the China pullback & attempted renegotiation of the Trade Deal is the sincere HOPE that they will be able to ‘negotiate’ with Joe Biden or one of the very weak Democrats, and thereby continue to ripoff the United States (($500 Billion a year)) for years to come," Trump tweeted.
The first, sudden signs of trouble in the negotiations meant to end the yearlong trade war came Sunday when Trump tweeted a threat to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from the current 10% rate to 25%. The president said the increase would go into effect on Friday at 12:01 a.m. ET.
Trump also said the US would impose another 25% tariff on $325 billion worth of goods not currently caught up in the trade war.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed Monday that the US planned to increase the tariff rate to 25% on the $200 billion tranche. According to the officials, the reason for the threat was because China had walked back some of its earlier commitments in trade talks.
"Over the course of the last week or so, we have seen an erosion in commitments by China, I would say retreating from specific commitments that had already been made," Lighthizer said.
In addition, Lighthizer’s office on Wednesday officially submitted the draft text to raise the tariffs come Friday — making the threat very real.
Prior to the sudden reversal, negotiations between the US and China seemed to be coming along nicely. A deal was close as the Trump administration reportedly prioritized short-term gains over long-term structural changes to the Chinese economic system.
By Trump’s estimation the sudden difficulty from the Chinese is a delay tactic to try and hold out until a Democrat potentially takes over the Oval Office after the 2020 election, which the president believes will result in a worse deal for the US.
Whether that is the case is unclear but there is still some time to make a deal. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is scheduled to come to Washington, DC, on Thursday for the next round of negotiations.
Here’s a timeline of the US-China trade war so far:
- March 1: President Donald Trump announces tariffs on all imports of steel and aluminum, including metals from China.
- March 22: Trump announces plans to impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. China announces tariffs in retaliation to the steel and aluminum duties and promises a response to the latest US announcement.
- April 3: The US trade representative announces a list of Chinese goods subject to the tariffs. There is a mandatory 60-day comment period for industries to ask for exemptions from the tariffs.
- April 4: China rolls out a list of more than 100 US goods worth roughly $50 billion that are subject to retaliatory tariffs.
- May 21: After a meeting, the two countries announce the outline of a trade deal to avoid the tariffs.
- May 29: The White House announces that the tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods will move forward, with the final list of goods released June 15. The move appears to wreck the nascent trade deal.
- June 15: Trump rolls out the final list of goods subject to new tariffs. Chinese imports worth $34 billion would be subject to the new 25% tariff as of July 6, with another $16 billion worth of imports subject to the tariff at a later date. China retaliates with an equivalent set of tariffs.
- June 18: Trump threatens a 10% tariff on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
- July 6: The first tranche of tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods takes effect; China responds in kind.
- July 10: The US releases an initial list of an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods that could be subject to a 10% tariff.
- August 1: Washington more than doubles the value of its tariff threats against Beijing, announcing plans to increase the size of proposed duties on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25% from 10%.
- August 3: China says it will impose tariffs of various rates on another $60 billion worth of US goods if Trump moves forward with his latest threat.
- August 7: The US announces that the second tranche of tariffs, which will hit $16 billion worth of Chinese goods, will go into effect on August 23.
- August 23: The US imposes tariffs on another $16 billion worth of Chinese goods, and Beijing responds with tariffs on $16 billion worth of US goods.
- September 7: Trump says the tranche of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods is coming "soon" and threatens to impose tariffs on another $267 billion worth of Chinese goods.
- September 17: The US imposes tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, the tariff rate is scheduled to increase form 10% to 25% on January 1.
- December 1: Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping sit down at the G20 summit in Argentina, the two leaders hash out a trade deal truce, delaying the escalation of US tariffs until March 1.
- December 4: Despite the truce, Trump tweets that he is still a "Tariff Man" and says a deal will only get done if it is in the best interest of the US.
- February 24: After a series of negotiations, Trump announces that US tariffs will not increase on March 1. Delays the increase indefinitely.
- May 5: After progress in talks, Trump suddenly threatens to raise tariffs to 25% within the wek, threatens new tariffs on another $325 billion of Chinese goods.
- Trump’s top trade negotiator confirms the China tariffs will increase on Friday, accuses Beijing of walking back on trade deal
- Trump just said Mueller shouldn’t testify before Congress and claimed that Democrats were ‘looking for a redo’
- Trump threatens seismic shift in trade war with China, suggesting new tariffs on $325 billion worth of Chinese goods