Donald Trump reiterated his own calls to add an extra 45 percent tariffs on Chinese imports at the Fox Business debate today (Thursday night in America). After initially denying comments the New York Times had clearly reported him making, he later tried to justify those very comments that he claimed to not have made.
At the debate, he made the proposal because China had been accused of devaluing its currency:
What I said to the New York Times, is that, we have great power, economic power over China and if we wanted to use that and the amount — where the 45 percent comes in, that would be the amount they saw their devaluations that we should get.
However, in his original interview with the Times, he didn’t mention currency manipulation.
Here is what the Times reported:
In addressing the trade imbalance with China, Mr. Trump addressed an issue that has been a focus of his speeches going back to 2011, when he considered running for president when President Obama was seeking re-election. In the editorial board meeting, which was held Tuesday, Mr. Trump said that the relationship with China needs to be restructured.
“The only power that we have with China,” Mr. Trump said, “is massive trade.”
“I would tax China on products coming in,” Mr. Trump said. “I would do a tariff, yes — and they do it to us.”
The article didn’t mention “manipulation” once.
As for charges of currency manipulation, the International Monetary Fund said in spring 2015 that the Chinese yuan isn’t even devalued in the first place.
Finally, as a matter of fact, Trump is also wrong that “they [China] send [us] their goods and we don’t tax it — they do whatever they want to do.” In fact, almost every country has some tariffs. It is true that China’s tariffs are higher than America’s. According to the World Trade Organization’s “International Trade and Market Access Data” map, the U.S. has an average applied MNF tariff of 3.51%, while China’s average is 9.55%.
The MFN average of traded TL for Chinese goods to the U.S. is 3.6% on non-agricultural trade and 4.3% on agricultural (China profile at WTO). For U.S. exports to China, those numbers are 9.0% for non-agricultural products and 15.4% for agricultural products.