US President Donald Trump has seized on slowing economic growth in China as evidence that US tariffs are having “a major effect” and warned Washington could pile on more pressure as bilateral trade talks sputtered along.
Data released earlier on Monday showed growth in the world’s second-largest economy had slowed to 6.2 per cent in the second quarter, its weakest pace in at least 27 years, amid ongoing trade pressure from the US.
“This is why China wants to make a deal with the US, and wishes it had not broken the original deal in the first place,” Trump tweeted.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin later said he and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would speak with their Chinese counterparts by phone again this week as part of the recently resumed trade talks.
A face-to-face meeting hinges on progress in the year-long trade war, he added.
“To the extent that we make significant progress, I think there’s a good chance we’ll go there later,” he told reporters at a rare White House news briefing ahead of his trip to meet with finance ministers from the Group of Seven nations.
Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping last month agreed to another truce in the year-long trade spat between the world’s two largest economies. That agreement, announced after the leaders met in Osaka, Japan, was aimed at kickstarting stalled negotiations but no deadline has been set for the process to conclude.
Trump has grown increasingly frustrated that China has not delivered on what he viewed as a promise by the Chinese side to start buying more US agricultural goods, even as talks continued.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox Business Network the administration was still waiting for Beijing to reciprocate goodwill gestures such as eased restrictions on China’s Huawei Technologies and a freeze in any new tariffs.
“We expect the Chinese to be launching a significant purchase of US agriculture products, goods and services. We haven’t seen that quite yet, but we’re very keenly watching the developments there,” he said.
However, sources familiar with the state of negotiations insist the Chinese side did not make firm commitments at the meeting to immediately purchase agricultural commodities.
Adding to mounting pressure on China, Trump signed an order on Monday seeking to increase the US domestic content threshold for components in federal procurements.
The president signed the order, aims to boost the threshold from 50 per cent to 75 per cent, during an annual White House “Made in America” showcase.
Official data showed that China’s daily crude steel output rose to record levels in June, according to Reuters calculations, even as anti-pollution production curbs pushed whole-month production slightly lower.
One source familiar with the negotiations said the US side wants China to clarify what negotiating document will form the basis for further talks before locking in a firm date for the in-person meeting. China backed away from an earlier draft agreement in early May.