Top aides say Trump still determined to hike China tariffs

President Donald Trump is not backing away from recently announced plans to raise tariffs on Chinese goods, despite indicating earlier Sunday he was having second thoughts, top administration aides said.

“The president is determined to have fair and reciprocal trade with China,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.” “This morning’s comments weren’t meant to back that off. It was meant to say he is as determined as ever on this issue. He wants a good deal.”

White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow underscored that point on CNN’s “State of the Union,” suggesting Trump had misheard a question from a reporter about the trade war with China.

Trump announced Friday he would raise tariffs on approximately $550 billion worth of Chinese goods by an additional 5 percentage points this fall. He made the announcement after China said it was retaliating for an earlier Trump tariff action by increasing duties on $75 billion worth of American goods from 5 percent to 10 percent, in waves on Sept. 1 and Dec. 1.

The escalating trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies triggered a sharp sell-off in the stock market on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down more than 600 points and the S&P 500 tumbling about 2.6 percent by the end of trading. Trump’s own tariff escalation came an hour after regular trading closed for the week.

The president confused the situation Sunday when asked by a reporter at the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, whether he was having second thoughts about ratcheting up the trade war with China.

“Yeah, sure. Why not? Might as well. Might as well,” Trump responded, adding that he has “second thoughts about everything.”

However, despite the prospect of a further slide in the U.S. stock market on Monday, Mnuchin said Trump is determined

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