Trump hails eco­nomic boom, says China deal is ‘close’

Muscat Daily - - BUSINESS -

Washington, US - Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Tues­day took credit for an Amer­i­can eco­nomic re­nais­sance but was greeted by another salvo from US in­dus­tries that blame his trade wars for jeop­ar­dis­ing em­ploy­ment, wound­ing busi­ness and bur­den­ing con­sumers with higher costs.

While he said the par­tial trade deal he an­nounced last month with China was ‘close’ he warned he would jack up tar­iffs even fur­ther should the pact fail to ma­te­ri­alise.

“A deal could hap­pen soon,” Trump said fol­low­ing an ad­dress to the Eco­nomic Club of New York. “We’ll only ac­cept a deal ac­cept­able for Amer­i­cans.”

But a re­port re­leased si­mul­ta­ne­ously by the Port of Los An­ge­les flatly con­tra­dicted the White House mes­sage that the United States is eas­ily weath­er­ing Trump’s multi-front trade con­flict. It warned that the trade wars threaten al­most 1.5mn jobs across the United States which de­pend on the move­ment of goods through ports in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia that are heav­ily re­liant on trade with China.

“Some re­gions and in­dus­tries are al­ready feeling the pain and the dam­age to jobs, in­come and tax rev­enue could be crip­pling down the road,” Gene Seroka, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Port of Los An­ge­les, said in a state­ment.

Higher im­port costs and lost mar­kets also pose a risk to US$186bn in an­nual mer­chan­dise trade through the ports and will bur­den con­sumers with bil­lions of dol­lars in price in­creases, it said.

As of last month, cargo vol­ume at the ports is down more than 19 per cent com­pared to Oc­to­ber of last year, the re­port said.

Com­plaints from US busi­ness have be­come louder this year as the trade war has dragged on while farms and fac­to­ries fall on hard times.

Trump launched his trade bat­tle with China last year, ac­cus­ing Bei­jing of try­ing to dom­i­nate in­dus­tries across the globe through sub­si­dies, theft of in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty and other prac­tices.

Com­pa­nies were re­lieved when Trump last month an­nounced a sub­stan­tial ‘ phase one’ deal with Bei­jing but de­tails have been scarce and there is no word on when the agree­ment will be signed.

And Washington has sent con­flict­ing sig­nals that have con­fused in­vestors.

“If we don’t make a deal, we’re go­ing to sub­stan­tially raise those tar­iffs,” Trump said on Tues­day.

But econ­o­mists warn the trade war has be­gun to rat­tle the global econ­omy, which is suf­fer­ing a gen­eral slow­down, and also hit the United States, erod­ing ex­ports and busi­ness in­vest­ment, send­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing into de­cline and help­ing put the brakes on hir­ing.

The In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund said last month the trade wars are likely to shave 0.8 per cent off global growth next year and was eat­ing into busi­ness in­vest­ment in the United States.

Trump ap­peared to ac­knowl­edge some in­dus­tries might have suf­fered due to ‘a lit­tle bit per­haps the un­cer­tainty of trade wars’. But he has­tened to add, ‘but there is no un­cer­tainty’, and said “The real cost... would be if we did noth­ing.”

The eco­nomic pow­ers have so far slapped tar­iffs on al­most a half-tril­lion dol­lars in US-China trade.

Trump last month held off on a round of tar­iff in­creases and White House of­fi­cials have sug­gested in re­cent days that as part of the cur­rent deal he could de­lay new tar­iffs planned for mid-De­cem­ber. Those du­ties would raise costs for highly pop­u­lar con­sumer elec­tron­ics in­clud­ing Ap­ple’s iPhones.


US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks at the Eco­nomic Club of New York in New York City, US on Tues­day

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