Trump Denies He’d Put 45 Percent Tariff on Imported Goods from China: ‘I Didn’t Say I Was Going to Do It’

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Republican frontrunner Donald Trump denied that he would impose a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods coming into the United States as president, telling Fox News Sunday “I didn’t say I was going to do it.”

However, Trump told the New York Times this week he would “do a tax” on imported goods from China to restructure the relationship with the country, who he has constantly railed against on the campaign trail, and that it should be 45 percent:

“The only power that we have with China,” Mr. Trump said, “is massive trade.”

“I would tax China on products coming in,” Mr. Trump said. “I would do a tariff, yes — and they do it to us.”

Mr. Trump added that he’s “a free trader,” but that “it’s got to be reasonably fair.”

“I would do a tax. and the tax, let me tell you what the tax should be … the tax should be 45 percent,” Mr. Trump said.

Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Trump about his proposal and wondered if such a high tariff would increase the prices for American consumers and further damage China’s economy.

“Chris, I didn’t say I was going to do it,” Trump said. “I told them, I would now say to them very strongly, if you don’t start living by the rules … They’re not living by the rules. What they’re doing with their devaluations is a disgrace to us. And by the way, China’s not the only one. But China is the worst abuser of all, and they have to stop doing it.”

One Forbes columnist called Trump’s idea “lunacy.”

Full exchange:

CHRIS WALLACE: You said the other day that you would impose a 45 percent tariff on all Chinese goods coming into this country. Wouldn’t that both increase the price of these goods to American consumers and weaken the Chinese economy even more?

DONALD TRUMP: Chris, I didn’t say I was going to do it. I told them, I would now say to them very strongly, if you don’t start living by the rules, they’re not living by the rules. What they’re doing with their devaluations is a disgrace to us. And by the way, China’s not the only one. But China is the worst abuser of all, and they have to stop doing it. And if they don’t do that, we have tremendous power over China. You know, the Obama administration doesn’t understand that. We have tremendous power, economic power over China. Because once that stops, they have a depression the likes of which you have never seen.

Update: (8:36 p.m.) Earlier, the headline read Trump said “I didn’t say I would do it.” His exact quote was, “I didn’t say I was going to do it.”

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