President Donald Trump responded to tariffs from China with a threat Thursday of $100 billion more in retaliatory tariffs.
Here's what Trump said
"In light of China's unfair retaliation, I have instructed the [United States Trade Representative] to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate," read the statement, according to CNN Money.
"Rather than remedy its misconduct, China has chosen to harm our farmers and manufacturers," he added.
Trump had opened the first salvo in what appears to be an emerging trade war when he announced tariffs on steel and aluminum to protect U.S. industries. China responded with their own tariffs on U.S. products.
Trump then announced $50 billion of tariffs targeting specific products from China. China responded with $50 billion more in tariffs on U.S. products.
On Wednesday, Trump tweeted a denial that the U.S. was in a trade war, saying that the U.S. had already lost to China.
"We are not in a trade war with China," the president said, "that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S."
We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who r… https://t.co/E5TbG7MiGS— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1522840923.0
"Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion," he added. "We cannot let this continue!"
'Trade wars are good, and easy to win'
Trump said in a tweet in March that a trade war would be "easy to win."
When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with… https://t.co/lPSkkolNRP— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1519987834.0
"When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win," the president tweeted. "Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!"
Later, when asked by reporters about the statement, Trump backtracked and said that there wouldn't be a trade war.
'Light American agriculture on fire'
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who has been a conservative critic of Trump, decried the announcement from the president.
"Hopefully the President is just blowing off steam again but, if he's even half-serious, this is nuts. China is guilty of many things," the senator added, "but the President has no actual plan to win now.
"He's threatening to light American agriculture on fire. Let's absolutely take on Chinese bad behavior, but with a plan that punishes them instead of us. This is the dumbest possible way to do this."
'Unfair acts, policies, and practices'
U.S. Trade representative Robert Lighthizer justified Trump's tariff request in a statement Thursday evening.
"China has chosen to respond thus far with threats to impose unjustified tariffs on billions of dollars in U.S. exports, including our agricultural products," Lighthizer said. "Such measures would undoubtedly cause further harm to American workers, farmers, and businesses. Under these circumstances, the President is right to ask for additional appropriate action to obtain the elimination of the unfair acts, policies, and practices identified in USTR's report."