U.S.: Trump threatens tariffs on all US$500B of Chinese imports
In a taped interview with the business channel CNBC, Trump said "I'm willing to go to 500," referring roughly to the $505.5 billion in goods imported last year from China, the New York Times reported.
The U.S. Government put a 15% tariff on US$34 billion of Chinese goods in mid-June, to which China retaliated with duties of its own, hitting U.S. imports of fruit including cherries, citrus and apples.
On July 10 the U.S. announced a second possible round targeting US$200 billion worth of goods. Beijing vowed "firm and forceful measures" in response.
Richard Owen from the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) earlier told Fresh Fruit Portal he believed the tariffs on U.S. fruit products would have a greater effect on apples and citrus - for which there is greater competition - than for higher value products like cherries, which could more easily absorb the increase.
Tariffs on fruit products could lead to knock-on effects in other markets - a concern recently raised by the Chilean apple industry.
In addition, the U.S. apple industry is also facing a 25% tariff hike in India in retaliation for U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. By mid-May this year India had overtaken Canada to become Washington state's second-biggest apple export market.
Beijing is targeting sectors, like agriculture, that could harm Trump politically at home, though he said in the CNBC interview that he is seeking to do only what is fair.
"I'm not doing this for politics, I'm doing this to do the right thing for our country," Trump said. "We have been ripped off by China for a long time."
China does not have the wherewithal to match the U.S. on tariffs, but China's central bank is allowing its tightly controlled currency to drift lower against the dollar, a move that could help Chinese exporters cope with U.S. tariff hikes.
However, such a maneuver could also reignite an outflow of capital Beijing spent months trying to stanch.