President Trump’s plans to hit China with $200 billion more in tariffs is roiling global markets, angering business groups and putting lawmakers on edge in an important election year.
Trump doubled down on Tuesday, telling a group of business leaders it is time for the U.S. to get tough on China for its unwillingness to change aggressive and unfair trade policies.
“We’re going to get smart, and we’re going to do it right,” Trump told the National Federation of Independent Business in Washington.
Trump said China could still reach out to make a deal, but he saw no signs that would happen.
“We have no choice with China, it’s time folks, it’s time,” he insisted.
Trump’s comments come after he directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Monday to identify $200 billion worth of Chinese goods for a 10 percent import tax.
Business groups, which have expressed open frustration with Trump’s trade policies, called on lawmakers to quickly intervene and take more oversight on tariff decisions.
The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) was one of a wide range of business groups — from footwear to bankers, oil and automakers — blasting the threatened tariffs and calling for greater congressional control over Trump’s trade policies.
“We strongly believe that, in order to change the current path that the administration has chosen to take on trade, Congress must reassert itself and oversee our country’s trade policy, especially the use of unilateral tariffs,” said Rufus Yerxa, president of the NFTC, in a letter to trade lawmakers signed by more than 60 of the group’s members.
The National Retail Federation also urged lawmakers to act to prevent a trade war. President and CEO Matthew Shay said the tariffs “threaten to sap the energy out of the strong U.S. economy just as most Americans are starting to enjoy the benefits of historic tax reform.”