BIARRITZ, France: When President Donald Trump said on Sunday (Aug 25) that he had second thoughts about escalating the trade war with China, he meant that he wished he had raised tariffs on Beijing even higher, the White House said.
Trump, who announced higher tariffs on Chinese goods last week, raised eyebrows during a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the G7 when he responded in the affirmative to questions from reporters on whether he had any second thoughts about the tariff move.
White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham sought to explain the remark.
“His answer has been greatly misinterpreted. President Trump responded in the affirmative – because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher,” she said in a statement.
Earlier on Sunday, Trump appeared to signal he might be considering a softening of his position in the trade war, which has seen Washington impose steep levies on all Chinese imports – and China responding with billions of dollars of tariffs of its own.
“I have second thoughts about everything,” he said.
He also said he would hold off for now on declaring a national emergency which would allow him to invoke an obscure law that he says gives him the power to order US companies out of China.
“I have the right to, if I want. I could declare a national emergency,” he said. “I have no plan right now.”
Trump first brandished the possibility of the drastic measure on Friday, when he tweeted that American companies “are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China.”