By Jeff Mason and Se Young Lee
WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he would meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping next month and that he expected their discussions would be “very fruitful,” as the trade war between the world’s two largest economies intensified.
Earlier, China announced it would impose higher tariffs on a range of U.S. goods including frozen vegetables and liquefied natural gas, a move that followed Washington’s decision last week to hike its own levies on $200 billion (£154.27 billion) in Chinese imports.
Trump had warned Beijing not to retaliate.
The U.S. president said he would meet Xi at a G20 summit in Japan in late June.
“We’re dealing with them. We have a very good relationship,” Trump said in remarks at the White House. “Maybe something will happen. We’re going to be meeting, as you know, at the G20 in Japan and that’ll be, I think, probably a very fruitful meeting.”
Trump, who has embraced protectionism as part of an “America First” agenda, added that he had not yet decided whether to go ahead with tariffs on roughly another $325 billion in goods from China.
For its part, China said on Monday it plans to set import tariffs ranging from 5% to 25% on 5,140 U.S. products on a revised $60 billion target list. It said the tariffs will take effect on June 1.
“China’s adjustment on additional tariffs is a response to U.S. unilateralism and protectionism,” its finance ministry said. “China hopes the U.S. will get back to the right track of bilateral trade and economic consultations and meet with China halfway.”
The prospect that the United States and China were spiralling into a no-holds-barred dispute that could derail the global economy has rattled investors and led to a sharp selloff on equities markets in the past week.
Global equities tumbled again on Monday, with major Wall Street stock indexes down more than 2.0%. China’s yuan currency fell to its lowest level since December and oil futures slumped.[nL2N22P0US]
“It’s clear that there is a lot of nervousness around the U.S.-China trade negotiations and concern that it’s really deteriorating pretty significantly, and that’s impacting all areas of markets,” said Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco in New York.
Trump stepped up his verbal attacks on China on Friday after two days of high-level trade negotiations in Washington ended with the two sides in an apparent stalemate.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC the talks were ongoing and he was working on when to travel to Beijing.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Se Young Lee in Beijing; Makini Brice, Doina Chiacu, David Lawder, Jeff Mason and Humeyra Pamuk in Washington and Alden Bentley in New York; Writing by Paul Simao; Editing by Darren Schuettler, Jeffrey Benkoe and Susan Thomas)