For much of his first term, President Donald Trump focused on a more balanced trade arrangement with China, achieving in January a “Phase One” deal as well as an understanding that negotiations would continue toward a second, broader agreement in the future.
All of that changed, however, when the China-originated coronavirus pandemic reached America in March, and now President Trump says that negotiating a “Phase Two” deal with the communist regime is the “last thing” he is currently contemplating, as Breitbart reported.
“The last thing I think about”
That revelation from President Trump came during an exclusive interview with Breitbart News in the Oval Office on Monday, where the president and the media outlet spent about 30 minutes discussing a variety of issues.
“We made a great deal, on the phase one deal,” Trump said of the negotiated trade agreement. “The last thing I think about right now is phase two. It’s the last thing I’m thinking about right now, is a China phase two deal, after what they did to us on the China virus.”
Yet, aside from not continuing negotiations on additional phases of a broader trade deal, President Trump declined to provide any specifics as to whether he is contemplating any other means to hold the communist Chinese regime responsible for unleashing the new infectious disease upon the rest of the world.
“They should have stopped it, it being there,” the president said of the virus that originated in Wuhan, China. “We’ll see what happens. I can’t tell you yet, but we’ll see what happens. They certainly started it and they could have held it. Look, it didn’t get into China. But it went all over the world. They could have stopped it. They should have.”
Trump touts tariffs
The reporter also asked more broadly, separate and apart from the virus, what President Trump had done to combat and confront the communist regime in Beijing.
The president touted not only the Phase One trade deal but also the varied tariffs he had imposed on China that helped drive that nation to the negotiating table in the first place. He also highlighted how he had used the additional revenue generated by those tariffs to compensate American farmers that had purposely been targeted economically by China.
“We’ve given $28 billion to our farmers because they were targeted by China. Nobody has ever done that before. That was one of the weak spots. China had told other administrations they were going to target the farmers. So the other administrations always caved,” Trump explained.
“I said that’s okay, you target the farmers and I’ll target you. We charged them a tariff, a 25% tariff. We’ve taken in tens of billions of dollars. We actually gave $12 billion plus $16 billion and then more this year to the farmers because that’s the amount of money that the farmers were targeted for,” he added.
Considering how much time and energy President Trump invested in reaching the agreement with China in January on the first phase of a massive trade deal, and especially in light of how much of a priority Trump placed on reaching those terms, the fact that he now appears willing to let the remainder of the proposed deal go unnegotiated reveals just how angered he is by China’s actions with regard to the virus.
To be sure, Trump’s apparent intention to simply walk away from the the bargaining table could, in fact, be a negotiating tactic in and of itself, designed to force concessions from the communist regime in exchange for a return to talks. At least as of now, however, it sure looks like any optimistic commentary on possible trade deals with China is out of the question.