President Donald Trump told CNBC on Monday he believes China will make a deal with the U.S. “because they’re going to have to.”
In a wide-ranging telephone interview on ” Squawk Box, ” Trump defended his threats to slap tariffs on Mexico and China, which he said are putting the U.S. “at a tremendous competitive advantage.”
“The China deal is going to work out. You know why? Because of tariffs,” Trump told co-host Joe Kernen. “Right now, China is getting absolutely decimated by companies that are leaving China, going to other countries, including our own, because they don’t want to pay the tariffs.”
It’s unclear to what extent China is being hurt by U.S. tariffs. Data released by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government Monday morning show a widening Chinese surplus on U.S. in May.
Trump said China is “going to make a deal because they’re going to have to make a deal.”
He also responded directly to the Chamber of Commerce’s executive vice president and head of international affairs, Myron Brilliant, who earlier on “Squawk Box” had criticized the president’s use of tariffs.
“The weaponization of tariffs, the increase of threats on our economy, on our farmers, on our manufacturers, our consumers, is going to hurt our country. It also creates uncertainty with our trading partners,” Brilliant said.
“He’s not protecting our country,” Trump said of Brilliant. “He’s protecting companies who are members” of the Chamber.
The Trump administration aims to strike a trade deal with Beijing to address concerns including intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and trade deficits. Trump used tariffs to bring China to the negotiating table. The White House touted progress toward an agreement earlier this year before talks crumbled – and Trump hiked tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods in May.
So far, the U.S. has slapped duties on $250 billion in Chinese products, while Beijing has put tariffs on $110 billion in American goods. Trump has threatened to impose separate tariffs on more than $300 billion in currently untaxed Chinese goods, and reiterated that threat in the interview Monday morning.
Trump’s remarks came after the president sent a series of tweets touting the deal reached with Mexico that prevented the U.S. from imposing tariffs of 5% on all Mexican goods.
Those tariffs, set to go into effect Monday, were canceled following days of negotiations between officials from the U.S. and Mexico in Washington last week.
But Trump threatened on Monday to pull the trigger on tariffs against Mexico if Mexican lawmakers rejected the deal.
Trump rebuked the Chamber of Commerce on his Mexico strategy, as well: “I just want to say to the United States Chamber of Commerce, if we didn’t have tariffs, we wouldn’t have made a deal with Mexico. We got everything we wanted. And we’re going to be a great partner to Mexico now. Because now they respect us, they didn’t even respect us.”
In a joint declaration Friday, Mexico agreed to take “unprecedented steps” to stem the flow of migrants crossing to the U.S. border illegally. The declaration offered few specifics, but multiple outlets reported that Mexico had offered to deploy up to 6,000 members of its national guard to the country’s own border with Guatemala.
The New York Times, however, reported Saturday that the terms of the new deal with Mexico had largely been agreed upon months earlier. Trump called that report a “FRAUD” and a “hit job.”