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Trump says he could impose more China tariffs if he wants

Washington

PRESIDENT Donald Trump reiterated that he could impose additional tariffs on Chinese imports if he wants, after promising to hold off on more duties in a trade-war truce he reached with China's President Xi Jinping last month.

"We have a long way to go . . . We have another US$325 billion we can put a tariff on, if we want," Mr Trump said. "So, we're talking to China about a deal, but I wish they didn't break the deal that we had." China said on Wednesday that further levies would complicate the negotiations.

"If the US imposes new tariffs, this would create a new obstacle for US and China trade negotiations, would make the road to coming to an agreement longer," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing. "China still hopes to resolve US-China trade frictions through consultation and dialogue."

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Mr Trump and Mr Xi called a tariff ceasefire and agreed to resume trade talks after meeting at the Group-of-20 summit in Japan in late June, breaking a six-week stalemate. The US president said he'd hold off on a threat to impose tariffs on an additional US$300 billion in Chinese imports, and that Mr Xi had agreed to buy large amounts of US farm goods in exchange. No such deal to increase agricultural purchases was made, Chinese officials said earlier. There hasn't been any large-scale buys since the meeting in late June.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer expect to have another call this week with top trade negotiators in China, and the two may travel to Beijing for meetings if the discussions by phone are productive, Mr Mnuchin said on Monday.

Mr Trump resumed pressure on China through tweets this week about the ongoing trade tensions. On Monday, he indicated that the US tariffs were having their intended impact by squeezing China's economy.

China released figures this week showing growth slowed to 6.2 per cent in the second quarter, the weakest pace since at least 1992 when it began collecting the data.

Meanwhile, Mr Trump last week complained that China wasn't living up to its promise of increased purchases of American agricultural goods. "China is letting us down in that they have not been buying the agricultural products from our great farmers that they said they would. Hopefully they will start soon!" Mr Trump said on Twitter.

The US expects China to announce significant purchases from US farmers, Mr Trump's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, told reporters on Monday, implying that the step is necessary for trade talks between the two nations to advance.

The talks broke down in May after the US accused China of reneging on commitments in a draft deal that Mr Mnuchin said had been 90 per cent completed. China has said there'll be no trade deal unless the US removes all existing tariffs put in place during the year-long trade war. BLOOMBERG