Boris Johnson vows to confront Trump over escalating trade war with China: 'This is not the way to proceed'

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor, in Biarritz
Saturday 24 August 2019 15:43
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Boris Johnson says he will tackle Donald Trump over China trade war at G7

Boris Johnson has vowed to confront Donald Trump over the escalating trade tensions with China, warning the US president he could be blamed for a potential global economic downturn.

Asked if he was ready to use his first face-to-face talks with Trump since becoming prime minister on Sunday to tell the president to pull back from his trade war with Beijing, Mr Johnson replied: “You bet.”

Speaking on his arrival at a G7 summit in Biarritz, France, which is likely to be dominated by fears of world recession, Mr Johnson warned the US president: "This is not the way to proceed".

Mr Johnson said he wanted to see an end to the tit-for-tat implementation of tariffs kicked off by the US president in 2018, which has also caught up UK companies including whisky distillers.

Asked if he wanted trade wars de-escalated, Mr Johnson said: “I do. Don’t forget, The UK is at risk of being implicated in this. We face tariffs of altogether £2.25 billion – that’s the value of the goods affected, £1.1 billion on whisky alone - that we could face if this goes on. This is not the way to proceed.

Donald Trump

“Apart from anything else, those who support the tariffs are at risk of incurring the blame for the downturn in the global economy irrespective of whether or not that is true. I want to see an opening up of global trade, I want to see a dialling down of tensions and I want to see tariffs come off.”

In a series of tweets on Friday, Mr Trump announced an additional tariff increase of 5 per cent on Chinese imports in retaliation to Beijing’s plans to impose duties on £61 billion worth of US goods.

The moves heightened concerns over a wave of protectionism further undermining a fragile global economy which many economists believe is teetering on the brink of recession.

The US president blasted China's actions as "politically motivated" and accused Beijing of "taking advantage" of the US. And he even announced he had "ordered" American firms to look for alternatives to Chinese trade partners - even though it was unclear why he felt he had powers to do so.

And as he left for Biarritz, Mr Trump shrugged off concerns, telling reporters: "Our tariffs are very good for us. China's paying for it. Our economy is doing great. We are having a little spat with China and we'll win it."

He also threatened France with "taxing their wine like they've never seen before" if president Emmanuel Macron pressed ahead with a digital tax on US tech giants.

Speaking as he met Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, Mr Johnson said the leaders would be “working flat out” over the bank holiday weekend.

The G7 was not a “wonderful boondoggle here in some posh hotel in Biarritz”, said Mr Johnson.

“We are going to be working flat out on issues that will make a material difference to the quality of life of everyone in our countries and around the world”.

On the major issues being discussed he said Canada and the UK are “side by side”.

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