March 25 (UPI) — President Donald Trump fully intends to impose $60 billion tariffs on Chinese imports if the two countries can’t agree to a trade deal, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuich said Sunday.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday Mnuchin said the United States is “working on” implementing the proposed tariffs while also seeking to reach a trade deal with that would reduce tariffs if China agrees to open up its markets.
“We’re simultaneously having negotiations with the Chinese to see if we can reach an agreement,” Mnuchin said. “As the president has said, we want to cut the trade deficit $100 billion over the next year. … I’m cautiously hopeful we reach an agreement, but if not we are proceeding with these tariffs. We are not putting them on hold.”
Mnuchin added attempting to achieve “free and fair trade” will do “long term good” for the U.S. economy, while saying the tariffs and a potential trade war will have little impact.
“I don’t expect to see a big impact on the economy,” he said. “We’ve been very careful in how we’re doing this and what we’re doing.”
Mnuchin also dismissed news that the Dow Jones industrial average fell 724 points the same day the tariffs were announced as a temporary setback.
“There’s a lot of different things impacting the stock market, but I think the most important thing to focus on is the market will go up and down in the short-term, the real important issue is where will it be longer-term. And the market is still up an enormous amount since the since the election,” he said.
“We believe trade protectionism, against the trend, will lead to nowhere. Unilateralism and a trade war will harm others without benefitting oneself … and invite greater conflict and a negative impact,” he said.
Trump signed an order Thursday to impose the tariffs on China, as a means to stem “economic aggression” by Beijing after a Section 301 trade investigation launched last summer found Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property is costing the U.S. economy billions of dollars.
China responded to the order, saying it would impose tariffs on $3 billion worth of imports of U.S. goods it both countries fail to resolve trade differences “within a stipulated time.”