United States President Donald Trump said on Monday that he would meet Chinese president Xi Jinping next month as the trade war between the world's two largest economies intensified, sending shivers through global markets.
Earlier, China announced it would impose higher tariffs on a range of US goods including frozen vegetables and liquefied natural gas, a move that followed Washington’s decision last week to hike its own levies on US$ 200 billion in Chinese imports.
The US Trade Representative’s office later said it planned to hold a public hearing next month on the possibility of raising duties of up to 25% on a further US$300 billion worth of imports from China. Mobile phones and laptops would be included in that list, but pharmaceuticals would be excluded, the office said.
The prospect that the US and China were spiraling into a no-holds-barred dispute that could derail the global economy has rattled investors and led to a sharp sell-off on equities markets in the past week.
A gauge of global stocks shed a further 1.9% on Monday, its biggest one-day drop in more than five months. China’s Yuan currency fell to its lowest level since December and oil futures slumped.
Donald Trump, who has embraced protectionism as part of an “America First” agenda, said he would talk to Mr. Xi at a Group of 20 summit in late June.
“Maybe something will happen,” Trump said in remarks at the White House. “We’re going to be meeting, as you know, at the G-20 in Japan and that’ll be, I think, probably a very fruitful meeting.”
Expressing optimism about resolving the trade dispute, the US leader later said: ”We’ll let you know in about three or four weeks whether or not it was successful. ... But I have a feeling it’s going to be very successful.”
US farmers are among those most hurt by the trade war, with soybean sales to China plummeting and US soybean futures hitting their lowest level in a decade. Trump said on Monday that his administration was planning to provide about US$15 billion to help farmers whose products might be targeted.
Farmers, who are a core political constituency for Mr. Trump’s Republicans heading into the 2020 presidential and congressional elections, are growing increasingly frustrated with the protracted trade talks and the failure to reach an agreement.
“What that means for soya bean growers is that we’re losing,” Mr. Davie Stephens, president of the American Soybean Association, said in a statement.