Trump says 'I am the chosen one' in tirade over looming recession and China trade war

'Somebody had to do it,' insists president as he defends tariffs which could sink US into recession

Chris Baynes
Wednesday 21 August 2019 19:20
Donald Trump says 'I am the chosen one' in tirade over looming recession and China trade war

Donald Trump has admitted his life would be easier if he had not mounted a trade war with China but declared he is “the chosen one” to take on Beijing.

The US president insisted he was “winning” against China and would “probably” secure a deal to fix the trade imbalance.

“Somebody had to do it,” he told reporters outside the White House. Looking up at to sky, he added: “I am the chosen one.”

Mr Trump’s self-aggrandising proclamation came during a press conference in which he defended waging a trade war with Beijing in the face of a looming recession.

His administration is to slap a 10 per cent tariff on $300 billion (£248.7 billion) of Chinese goods from September, with taxes on further products to follow in December.

The US has already imposed 25 per cent tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods, prompting China to apply duties on $110 billion of US imports in retaliation.

Mr Trump acknowledged for a second consecutive day the trade war could harm the US economy, although he insisted a recession was not on the horizon.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Wednesday became the latest independent institution to warn about the consequences of the tariffs the president has ordered to be imposed on China and other countries.

The CBO said changes in US and foreign trade policies since January 2018 would reduce US gross domestic product by 0.3 per cent from what it would otherwise have been in 2020. Real income for the average US household is also expected to drop by 0.4 percent, it added.

The International Monetary Fund has warned global economic output could be reduced by as much as 0.5 per cent next year as a result of tariffs.

Mr Trump insisted he had to confront China over trade, even if it caused short-term harm to the US economy, because Beijing had been cheating Washington for decades.

“This isn’t my trade war, this is a trade war that should have taken place a long time ago,” he said. “Somebody had to do it, so I’m taking on China on trade. And you know what? We’re winning.”

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China‘s foreign ministry downplayed the comments, emphasising the need for dialogue to resolve differences on trade issues.

But it also threatened to retaliate with sanctions on US companies if Washington proceeded with an $8 billion arms sale to Taiwan, saying such deals interfered with China’s internal affairs and violated Chinese sovereignity.

The White House formally announced approval of a possible sale of 66 Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan on Tuesday.

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