US won't hold back on tariffs if Chinese drag their feet: Wilbur Ross

December 02, 2019

Editor’s note: Secretary Ross departs from the “we’re close to a deal” messaging of other administration officials with a more aggressive statement.

Time is running out for the U.S. and China to make a trade deal before the U.S. increases tariffs on Chinese goods.

[Jonathan Garber | December 2, 2019 | Fox Business]

“Well, you have a logical deadline Dec. 15,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told FOX Business' Stuart Varney in an exclusive interview. “If nothing happens between now and then, the president has made quite clear he’ll put the tariffs in – the increased tariffs."

Ross said that placing tariffs on $156 billion of Chinese goods on Dec 15. won't "interfere with this year’s Christmas" as retailers have already stocked up, adding that it’s a "really good time if we have to put more tariffs on.”

Chinese negotiators have called for the U.S. to roll back tariffs as part of a phase one agreement, something President Trump has said he won't do. The U.S. has placed tariffs on more than $350 billion of Chinese goods amid the more than 17-month long trade war.

"We have a very strong economy and they have lots of problems," Ross said, pointing to the "hollowing out" of China's supply chain, the country's debt levels and falling consumer confidence. China's economy grew at a 6 percent pace in the third quarter, its weakest since record keeping began in 1993.

Ross thinks the Chinese economy is growing "slower than what they are letting on to."

When asked if the two sides will reach a deal this year, Trump told reporters at Andrews Air Force Base, "The Chinese are always negotiating. They want to make a deal. We'll see what happens."

Ross told Varney, "The ball is in China's court."

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