The markets initially reacted to the president’s comments in a CNBC interview that aired Friday morning. Trump said he’s “ready to go” on tariffs against all Chinese imports worth over $500 billion.
Dow futures dropped to a low of 24,912, down 147 points from Thursday’s close before rebounding to 24,974 (-85) at time of publication. S&P futures dropped 11.75 at their low before climbing to -5.0 (2,800.25) and NASDAQ futures hit a single-day low of 7350.75 (-17) before surging to a 16-point gain (7,383.25).
“I’m not doing this for politics, I’m doing this to do the right thing for our country,” the president said. “We have been ripped off by China for a long time.”
The U.S. and China are embroiled in a trade spat in which both countries have added tariffs on $36 billion in trade goods with another $16 billion set to go into effect soon.
“We are being taken advantage of,” he said of other country’s unfair trade practices. “I don’t like it.”
The president also revealed that a senior Chinese official told him just how the massive trade imbalance came to be.
“How did this ever happen,” he asked the official.
“There was never anybody to talk to in the United States,” the official responded, according to Trump. “We would put on a trade barrier where you couldn’t sell cars, or you couldn’t sell beef, or you couldn’t sell your farm products [into China]. Nobody would talk to us in the United States so we said ‘Hey, that’s great!’ And we’d put on another one.”
The president added that the Chinese said that they would increase the size of tariffs over time and “no one ever complained until [Trump] came along.”