‘Numbers that you haven’t even thought about’: Trump threatens China with a ‘fine’ over trade

Business & Technology

Expectations are rising (again) of substantive tariffs on Chinese goods being implemented by the United States. In an interview with Reuters, U.S. President Donald Trump said, “we have a very big intellectual property potential fine going, which is going to come out soon.” Trump then boasted that the potential fine would be in “numbers that you haven’t even thought about.”

  • “Soon” may actually mean soon, in this case, because the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has been investigating for “unreasonable or discriminatory” Chinese trading practices since last August. Gary Cohn, an economic advisor to Trump, confirmed that the USTR recommendations were nearly ready.
  • Trump will give a State of the Union address to the U.S. Congress on Jan. 30, and Trump “said he would be announcing some kind of action against China over trade and said he would discuss the issue” during the address, according to Reuters.
  • Another factor at play: Trump’s bark needs to be soon paired with a bite, or China may conclude he is “just another American paper tiger,” Bill Bishop notes (paywall) in Sinocism.

More reporting — all from Reuters, which is sparing no effort for this beat — on U.S.-China trade tensions, prospects, and trends: