Trump suggests September trade talks with China may not take place
President Donald Trump said Friday he was not ready to strike a trade deal with China and indicated the next round of talks might not take place as scheduled in early September — raising new doubts about the future of the negotiations and stoking uncertainty on Wall Street.
“We’re not ready to make a deal, but we’ll see what happens,” he said. “We’ll see whether or not we keep our meeting in September.”
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 250 points, or around 1 percent, following Trump’s comments, before recovering slightly. As of 1 p.m., the broader S&P 500 index was also down about 1 percent for the day.
Speaking to reporters outside of the White House, Trump also said the administration would not grant licenses for U.S. companies to resume certain types of transactions with blacklisted Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.
Trump has directly connected the administration’s treatment of the company to the broader trade talks. Industry sources told POLITICO that the U.S. easing up on Huawei would likely only happen if China agreed to resume purchases of U.S. agricultural goods.
“We’re not doing business with Huawei,” Trump said. “That doesn’t mean we won’t agree to something if and when we make a trade deal, but we’re not going to be doing business with Huawei.”
Trump’s comments injected new uncertainty into when U.S. and Chinese negotiators would next meet for face-to-face talks. Earlier this week, Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic adviser, said on CNBC that he expected the next round of talks to take place in September as scheduled.
Trump raised the stakes in his trade battle with Beijing last week when he said he would slap a 10 percent tariff on $300 billion in Chinese imports on Sept. 1. He escalated tensions further on Monday when he directed his Treasury Department to formally label China a currency manipulator, a rare designation the U.S. has not assigned to China since the early 1990s.
That move was made after China let its currency weaken beyond the psychologically important threshold of 7 yuan to the dollar. On Friday, the People’s Bank of China fixed the yuan beyond that level for the second time this week, setting its official midpoint reference at 7.0136 — the weakest it has been since April 2008, CNBC reported.
Adam Behsudi contributed to this report.