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Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada in January. Photo: Reuters

Donald Trump says he would impose tariffs on China again if re-elected in November

  • Donald Trump says tariffs on China could exceed 60 per cent, but he was not planning another trade war
  • Trump imposed US tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods in 2018 and 2019
Donald Trump

Former US president Donald Trump said he would impose more tariffs - possibly in excess of 60 per cent - on China if he is elected again.

Responding to a Washington Post report on him mulling a sweeping 60 per cent tariffs on all Chinese imports if elected, Trump said in a Fox News interview on Sunday: “No, I would say maybe it’s going to be more than that”.

Trump is the front runner for the Republican nomination in the US presidential race this year. In 2018 and 2019, his administration imposed tariffs of up to 25 per cent on hundreds of billions worth of Chinese goods. To retaliate, China also attached additional tariffs on certain US goods.

In the interview, Trump said he was not planning on another trade war.

“Not a trade war. I did great with China, with everything. China came in, they were going to destroy our steel industry, and I put tariffs, big tariffs,” Trump said. “And they stopped it.”

Then US President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan in 2019. Photo: Reuters

In 2018, the Trump administration levied a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports – including those from China - and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium, citing national-security risks and the need to protect domestic manufacturers from global overproduction of the metals.

“I have steel people, that every time they see me, they start to cry, they hug me, they say ‘you saved our industry’, but now we’re letting it go,” Trump said in the Sunday interview.

Why China hopes US won’t touch century-old trade rule for imports under US$800

US President Joe Biden has maintained the tariffs on Chinese goods, at an average of 19.3 per cent. The US trade representative is conducting a review of the tariffs.

While trade has remained a friction point between the two nations, the Biden administration has also been stepping up efforts to relocate US supply chains outside China.

China’s exports to the US fell by 13.1 per cent in 2023 compared to a year earlier, marking their deepest decline in almost three decades, according to Chinese customs data.

According to US data, China is also set to lose its position as the top exporter to the US for the first time in 17 years.

From January to November in 2023, total US imports for consumption – those that have physically cleared customs – from China were US$388 billion, outpaced by Mexico and even Canada, according to the US International Trade Commission.

According to a 2023 report from the commission, US importers bore nearly the full cost of the Trump era tariffs, as import prices increased at the same rate as the tariffs.

US President Joe Biden has maintained the tariffs on Chinese imports first imposed by Trump. Photo: TNS

On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin declined to comment on the report of Trump’s 60 per cent tariffs plan, saying that “we don’t comment on unverified information”.

“I want to stress that the economic and trade relations between China and the US are mutually beneficial and win-win in nature,” Wang said.

“Upholding sound and steady growth of China-US economic and trade ties serves the fundamental interests of both countries and our peoples and is conducive to global economic growth,” he said.