In an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box that aired Friday, when asked whether he’d really double the tariffs from the $250 billion he’s already outlined, Trump said, in short, yes.
“I’m ready to go to $500 billion,” he told CNBC. “I’m not doing this for politics. I’m doing this to do the right thing for our country. We’ve been ripped off by China for a long time.”
The United States has already enforced 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion worth of imports from China, and another $16 is expected to come due in short order. China has responded in kind with $50 billion worth of its own tariffs on U.S. goods. Another $200 billion in 10 percent tariffs against China is already under review with the United States Trade Representative, and to that, China has promised it will “make the necessary countermeasures.”
Now the president wants to escalate things further, rather than acquiescence, China has opted to retaliate.
“I raised $50 billion and they matched it,” Trump told CNBC. “I say, ‘You don’t match us, you can’t match us because otherwise we’re always going to be behind the 8 ball.”
Tariffs on $500 billion—the value of all the goods China shipped to U.S. shores last year—would mean new duties are attached to everything the U.S. imports from China. And what’s already included in the released tariff lists will have a sizable impact on the U.S. textile industry, as fibers, yarns and fabrics are included in the hopes of bolstering the domestic industry amid curbed imports from China. Apparel had so far been set to enjoy relatively minimal impact, but another round of tariffs would mean all China-origin apparel and clothing accessories would face the new duties.
If that happens, the industry could face higher prices at retail, which could translate to lower sales and ultimately, lost jobs.
“We all want to participate in a trading system that creates more jobs in America and respects our intellectual property, but tariffs will not do this,” American Apparel & Footwear Association president and CEO Rick Helfenbein said in a statement Friday. “It’s time to stop using the American consumer as a pawn in this conflict. Tariffs are taxes. Period. This is a short-sighted approach that will hit low-income Americans the hardest, imposing new hidden taxes on everything they must buy for themselves and their families.”