President Donald Trump said Thursday the U.S. could soon impose tariffs on more than $500 billion in Chinese imports, about the amount of total goods the U.S. imported from China last year.
Trump made his comments hours before fresh tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports were scheduled to take effect at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time Friday.
Speaking to reporters on Air Force One on his way to a rally in Montana, Trump gave a running total of what he will seek, assuming China responds with retaliatory tariffs, starting with the $34 billion in levies that kick in Friday.
“Then you have another 16 [billion] in two weeks and then as you know we have 200 billion in abeyance and then after the 200 billion we have 300 billion in abeyance. OK? So we have 50 plus 200 plus almost 300,” he said, according to reports by Reuters and CNBC, adding “It’s only on China.”
A massive escalation like that would likely rattle financial markets worldwide, and could have costly repercussions for U.S. manufacturers and consumers.
The $34 billion in tariffs that take effect Friday are the first part of tariffs on a total of $50 billion of Chinese goods that Trump announced in June. The second part, with tariffs on $16 billion in Chinese imports, is scheduled to take effect in two weeks.
China has warned it will retaliate in kind. On Thursday, China’s customs bureau said it would impose tariffs on $34 billion in U.S. goods immediately after the Trump administration’s tariffs take effect Friday, according to the Wall Street Journal.