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Trump: Doubling of China trade tariffs ‘ready to go’

September 7, 2018

President Trump said Friday that he has another $267 billion in tariffs ready to slap on China, calling his testy relationship with that nation “a far bigger problem” than dealing with Russia right now.

The president, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force Once, said he’s in the middle of reshaping America’s trade policy on a number of fronts, from Canada and Mexico nearby, to China, South Korea and Japan overseas.

He said Japan refused to work with the Obama administration but is working with him on a deal. And he said he’ll likely sign up updated free trade agreement with South Korea later this month when he visits the U.N.

And Mr. Trump said he’s winning the escalating battle over trade policy between the U.S. and China, but said he has more trade sanctions in the works.

“Nobody has ever done what I’ve done. The $200 billion we’re talking about, could take place very soon, depending what happens with them. To a certain extent it’s going to be up to China,” he said.

He added: “We’ve taxed them $50 billion that’s on technology. Now we’ve added another $200 billion. And I hate to say that, but behind that, there’s another $267 billion ready to go on short notice if I want. That totally changes the equation.”

It was unclear what those tariffs would cover.

Closer to home, the Trump administration has reached the outlines of a deal with Mexico to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. Canada, the third partner in NAFTA, is still negotiating.

Mr. Trump said he’s flexing the might of the American economy to get the best deal possible.

“I don’t want to do anything bad to Canada. I can, all I have to do is tax their cars, it would be devastating. If I tax cars coming in from Canada, it would be devastating,” he said. “I do use that as leverage in negotiating.”

The president also denied reports in the new book by Bob Woodward that a former White House economic adviser prevented the president from breaking up NAFTA and South Korea trade deals by secretly pulling papers off the president’s desk.

“That phony story about Gary Cohn, if he did that, I’d never speak to him again. I’d never speak to him again,” Mr. Trump said.

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