Trump: China tariffs will remain for 'substantial period of time' even with deal

Trump: China tariffs will remain for 'substantial period of time' even with deal
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE said Wednesday that he will maintain tariffs on Chinese imports even if he strikes a trade deal with Beijing.

Trump told reporters Wednesday that he will keep import taxes on billions in Chinese goods to make sure China complies with a potential agreement to reduce trade barriers. 

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“We’re not talking about removing them,” Trump said at the White House. “We’re talking about leaving them for a substantial period of time because we have to make sure that if we do the deal with China, that China lives by the deal.

“They’ve had a lot of problems living by certain deals and we have to make sure,” Trump continued.

Trump’s comments come days before Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinHow China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants Trump faces new hit on deficit MORE and U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerChinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead Trump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks MORE travel to China in hopes of finalizing a tentative deal.

The Trump administration is seeking pledges from Beijing to increase purchases of U.S. crops, halt alleged theft and forced transfers of American intellectual property, and expand foreign access to Chinese financial markets.

Trump has imposed 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports and a 10 percent tax on $200 billion in goods from the country to increase leverage over Beijing in trade talks.

China is seeking the removal of both sets of tariffs, and Trump did not specify whether he'd keep both sets or just one of them.

“We’re taking in billions and billions of dollars right now in tariff money and for a period of time that will stay,” Trump said of the tariffs on Chinese goods, which are paid by importers but critics say add to prices when sold in the United States.

The president has signaled optimism about a trade deal with China for several months and has repeatedly said an agreement would be finalized “soon.”

“The deal is coming along nicely,” Trump said Wednesday. “We’re getting along with China very well. [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping] is a friend of mine.”

It’s unclear how close the U.S. and China truly are to striking a deal, and some of Trump’s top aides have warned lawmakers that holding Beijing to the pact could be lengthy and difficult.

“We might be able to have an agreement that helps us turn the corner in our economic relationship with China,” Lighthizer told lawmakers in February.

But he warned that “there’s not going to be one negotiation” that fixes the U.S.-China trade dynamic.