Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Says China Is ‘Out Of Bullets’ To Retaliate Against Trump Tariffs

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross spoke on Tuesday regarding potential repercussions of President Trump’s new tariffs against China, explaining that the intention of the tariffs is to regulate the behavior of Beijing as well as to create a level playing field for American companies, CNBC reports.

Ross made an appearance on CNBC’s morning show Squawk Box after Trump revealed the new tariffs. Said tariffs are projected at a rate of 10 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese good — before rising to 25 percent by the end of the year. The conversation focused on the tariffs, as well as China’s revelation, delivered that morning, that they will place tariffs on about $60 billion of American goods beginning on September 24.

Ross said that upon analysis, the action by the Chinese reveals that the country is “out of bullets,” which he said was clear due to the Chinese exports to the United States being four times the size of the American exports to China.

Ross echoed the general theme of the Trump administration response, as Trump himself responded with a statement regarding the Chinese threats. “If China takes retaliatory action against our farmers or other industries, we will immediately pursue phase three, which is tariffs on approximately $267 billion of additional imports,” revealed Trump’s statements.

If Trump went ahead with implementing “phase three,” all Chinese goods would be affected, which according to United States Census data from 2017, would constitute about $505 billion worth of imports.

Ross made sure to point out that the tariffs were not “shot from the hip,” as the American government carefully analyzed all imports before deciding what to place imports on. Items that have been removed from the list of affected products include smartwatches, some chemicals, bicycle helmets, and high chairs.

“We went item by item, trying to figure out what would accomplish the punitive purpose on China and yet with the least disruption in the U.S.,” said Wilbur.

Wilbur also made an attempt to calm concerns from Americans that the price of common goods could rise by saying, “Nobody is going to actually notice at the end of the day.” Wilbur’s logic was that it was due to the hikes being “spread across thousands and thousands of products.”

China is currently revisiting its plans to send a delegation over for trade negotiation, according to reports from CNBC.

“It’s a little disappointing earlier tariffs have not resulted in more constructive dialogue,” Ross said, decrying the lack of cooperation between the world’s two largest economies. “But we hope these will.” As to whether some form of deal can be reached from the tariffs, Wilbur said that the opportunity was “in their ballpark.”