May 10, 2019 / 11:17 AM / 2 months ago

Trump says in 'no rush' for China trade deal, defends tariffs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he was in “absolutely no rush” to finalise a trade agreement with China as negotiators from both countries prepared to continue talks in Washington, in a sign that discussions could go past this week.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump answers a final question from reporters as he heads out the door of the Roosevelt Room after a health care billing event at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

In a blizzard of early-morning tweets, Trump defended his decision to slap additional levies on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, which went into effect earlier Friday, and said the tariffs would boost the United States more than any trade deal.

He also appeared to take aim at U.S. businesses for importing goods or parts from China, calling on them to make more products domestically to avoid paying any extra costs.

“Tariffs will bring in FAR MORE wealth to our country than even a phenomenal deal of the traditional kind,” Trump said in a tweet.

U.S. and Chinese officials are to resume negotiations on Friday morning for a second day as the world’s two largest economies seek an agreement.

“Talks with China continue in a very congenial manner - there is absolutely no need to rush,” Trump said. “We will continue to negotiate with China in the hopes that they do not again try to redo deal!”

“China should not renegotiate deals with the U.S. at the last minute,” he said.

Trump has erroneously insisted China would pay the tariffs but it is U.S. businesses that will shoulder the costs. Some have so far absorbed the levies but prices are up on numerous products as companies pass off the charges to consumers.

U.S. farmers and others are feeling the pinch from previous retaliatory tariffs imposed on their products by Beijing.

China on Friday also threatened to take measures in response to the latest additional tariffs imposed by Trump but gave no other details.

Trump struck a conciliatory note with the U.S. agriculture sector, promising to use federal funds to buy additional American farm products for overseas humanitarian aid.

But any funds from the U.S. tariffs would go into the U.S. Treasury’s general fund, and Congress - not the White House - directs U.S. spending.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, in an interview with Fox News taped on Thursday, sounded upbeat on a possible agreement.

“We believe a deal is possible,” he said in the interview that aired on Friday.

Reporting by Susan Heavey and Jeff Mason; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Bill Trott

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