WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that he has tariffs ready to go on a further $267 billion worth of Chinese imports, as the world awaits his decision on imposing levies on $200 billion worth of the Asian nation's goods.
“The $200 billion we are talking about could take place very soon depending on what happens with them. To a certain extent its going to be up to China, Trump said. "And I hate to say this, but behind that is another $267 billion ready to go on short notice if I want. That changes the equation.”
Hours after a public comment period closed on his $200 billion China tariff list, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that he was "being strong on China because I have to be."
Trump also said on Friday the United States and Japan have begun discussion over trade, saying that Tokyo "knows it's a big problem" if an agreement cannot be reached.
"We're starting that," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One. "In fact Japan has called us ... they came last week."
"If we don't make a deal with Japan, Japan knows it's a big problem," he added.
Trump, who is already challenging China, Mexico, Canada and the European Union on trade issues, has expressed displeasure about his country's large trade deficit with Japan, but had not asked Tokyo to take specific steps to address the imbalance.
On Thursday, though, CNBC reported he had told a Wall Street Journal columnist he might take on trade issues with Japan, causing the dollar to slip against the yen.
More on China
Trump has already imposed 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, mostly industrial machinery and intermediate electronics parts, including semiconductors.
The $200 billion list, which includes some consumer products such as cameras and recording devices, luggage, handbags, tires and vacuum cleaners, would be subject to tariffs of 10 percent to 25 percent.
Cell phones, the biggest U.S. import from China, have so far been spared, but would be engulfed if Trump activates the $267 billion tariff list.
Trump's threatened tariffs, now totaling $517 billion in Chinese goods, would exceed the $505 billion in goods imported from China last year. But 2018 Chinese imports through July were up nearly 9 percent over the same period of 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
Earlier on Friday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Bloomberg Television the administration would evaluate public comments before making decisions on the $200 billion tariff list.
The U.S. Trade Representative's office received nearly 6,000 comments and held seven days of public hearings on the proposed levies.
Most comments were from companies seeking to remove products from the tariff list, arguing there were few, if any alternative sources and the duties would cause financial hardship. Comparatively few applauded the tariffs.
Retailers had successfully kept high-profile consumer electronics such as cell phones and television sets off of previous tariff lists. But David French, top lobbyist for the National Retail Federation, whose members include Amazon.com, BJ’s Wholesale Club and Macy’s, said nearly every consumer good could be affected if Trump follows through on all threatened tariffs.
"The Chinese aren't paying these tariffs, American families are going to pay these tariffs. These are taxes and they're going to find their way into the pocket book of folks around the country," French said.
Still talking to China
Kudlow, who heads the National Economic Council, told CNBC the administration was still talking with China about trade issues but so far China had not met U.S. requests.
The United States has demanded that China better protect American intellectual property, cut its U.S. trade surplus, allow U.S. companies greater access to its markets and roll back its high-technology industrial subsidy programs.
"We are still talking with China on a number of issues ... Those talks will continue to go on. We want lower (trade) barriers across the board," Kudlow said.
Specifically, Kudlow said, the United States was seeking "zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, zero subsidies, stop the IP theft, stop the technology transfer, allow Americans to own their own companies."
"Those have been our asks for many months and so far those asks have not been satisfied," he said. "However, hope springs eternal."