Donald Trump has his sights on US business in tariffs battle



James Politi | Financial Times


Donald Trump raised the stakes again in the trade war with Beijing last weekend as he followed through on plans to impose a 15 per cent tariff on a further $112bn of imports from China.

The US president is now deep into a tense stand-off with Xi Jinping, his Chinese counterpart, amid dwindling hopes that the two leaders can forge a compromise.

But Mr Trump is also locked into a parallel game of chicken with corporate America, particularly those US multinationals that have big investments in China mainly to serve its growing market of 1.4bn people. Last month, Mr Trump vowed to use emergency powers to force American companies to leave China — and on Friday, he named and shamed General Motors, the US carmaker, for its presence in the Chinese market.

“They moved major plants to China, before I came into office. This was done despite the saving help given them by the USA. Now they should start moving back to America again?” Trump asked in a tweet.

US blue-chip companies’ response has been fairly defiant. The US-China Business Council, which represents many US companies operating in China, said the overwhelming consensus among members was that they would not heed the president’s orders and ditch the Chinese market.


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