President Trump, at a press conference on the sidelines of the G-7 summit, defended his handling of the chaotic trade war with China and said those calling for him to back down in negotiations “don’t have the guts.”
The president stood firm when asked about the impact his strategy with China has had on the international markets.
“Sorry—it’s the way I negotiate,” Trump said, while vowing that approach is seeing results.
Just hours prior to his press conference, it appeared that talks could resume between the U.S. and China, when the country signaled it was seeking a “calm” end to the trade war, as Asian markets crumbled and China’s currency hit an 11-year low. According to The Wall Street Journal, Chinese officials expressed interest to “get back to the table” in trade negotiations, which Trump called a “very positive development.”
“China wants to make a deal,” Trump said. “And I tell this to President Xi [Jinping] who I really respect … I told him very strongly, I said ‘Look, you’re making $500 billion a year and stealing our intellectual property…We can’t make a 50-50 deal.’”
He added: “If it’s not better, I don’t want to do business.”
The president’s comments come amid rapid-fire developments in the trade war between the U.S. and China. The president, after urging American businesses to abandon China, over the weekend threatened to declare a national emergency and freeze those relationships—as China imposed retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. goods and the Trump administration announced increased tariffs on $550 billion in Chinese goods.
Trump signaled Monday that things were moving in the right direction after a roller-coaster few days for the markets.
“We have to balance our trading relationship, at least to an extent, and they were unwilling to do that,” Trump said Monday. “We’ll never have a deal if that happens…But they’re going to do it. China wants to make a deal and if we can, we will make a deal.”
Trump also responded to critics urging him to back down in negotiations.
“I have people saying just make a deal, make a deal,” Trump explained. “They don’t have the guts and they don’t have the wisdom to know you can’t continue to go on where a country is taking $500 billion—billion with a ‘B’—out every single year.”
He went on to slam prior administrations going back decades: “Somebody had to do this. This should have been done by President Obama and Biden—Sleepy Joe—should have been done by Bush, by Clinton, double Bush, should have been done. I’m doing it.”
Meanwhile, during the joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Biarritz, France Monday, Trump was asked by Fox News’ John Roberts whether he believed Beijing was genuine in their offer to negotiate a trade agreement.
“I do,” Trump said. “I think they want to make a deal very badly. I think that was elevated very late in the night…The vice chairman of China came out that he wants to see a deal made and that it wants it to be made under calm conditions…I agree with him on that.”
“I believe they want to do a deal,” Trump said.
“I’m not sure they have a choice, I don’t say that as a threat,” Trump said Monday. “Meanwhile, the United States, who has never collected 10 cents from China, will, in a short period of time, have more than $100 billion in tariffs, so I think they want to make a deal very badly.”
The yuan slipped to 7.1487 to the dollar on Monday—taking a dive after the Treasury Department formally designated China a currency manipulator. The Treasury Department said it would work with the International Monetary Fund to try to address the “unfair competitive advantage created by China’s latest actions.”
But the yuan slipping could ultimately help struggling local exporters who want their products to be less expensive for international purchasers. People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang, though, has insisted that China does not “engage in competitive devaluation.”
Over the weekend, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters that if “China would agree to a fair and balanced relationship, we would sign that deal in a second.”
The trade war has not only impacted Chinese and Asian markets—U.S. markets have also plummeted, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average nosediving more than 600 points Friday after the latest escalation between the U.S. and China. The major drop put the S&P 500 at its fourth straight weekly loss.
The Dow plunge came after Trump tweeted that he “hereby ordered” U.S. companies with operations in China to consider moving them to other countries—including the U.S.
After the market closed on Friday, Trump vowed to increase existing tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods to 30 percent from 25 percent, and that new tariffs on another $300 billion of imports would be at 15 percent, instead of 10 percent—as promised in May when the administration first announced the U.S.’s controversial move to increase tariffs on Chinese good after trade talks between Washington and Beijing failed to come to an agreement.
Fox News’ Gregg Re, Ronn Blitzer, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.