- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2019

President Trump in 2018 said trade wars are “good, and easy to win.”

Steeped in a drag-out fight with China that’s rattled the markets, the president is revising his outlook.

“I never said China was going to be easy. But it’s not tough,” Mr. Trump told a New Hampshire rally late Thursday.

Mr. Trump insists the U.S. has the upper hand in negotiations with the Chinese, who said Thursday they may have to take retaliatory measures when the U.S. imposes new tariffs on its products Sept. 1.

Tariffs on certain Chinese goods won’t take effect until Dec. 15, however, to avoid ripples in the Christmas shopping season.

The delay was the first sign of acknowledgment from Mr. Trump that China may not absorb the full costs of his escalating tariffs.

Mr. Trump on Thursday said “tariffs have really bitten into China, they haven’t bitten into us at all.”

Yet in the same breath, he said U.S. consumers may see a bit of pain.

“We’ve taken in close to $60 billion in tariff money. And the consumer has not paid for them. Now, at some point, they may have to pay something. But they understand that,” Mr. Trump said. “And who really understands that is our great farmer. The farmers of this country really understand it. They know we had to do something about China, and we’re doing something about China.”

Chinese negotiators are schedule to meet with the administration in Washington next month to try and work out their differences on trade.

Mr. Trump says China might be trying to wait until the 2020 election, to see if they can deal with someone else.

For now, he’s using delays and tough rhetoric to soothe investors who see the trade war as a drag on the markets, rather than a breeze.

“When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win,” Mr. Trump tweeted in March 2018. “When we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore – we win big. It’s easy!”

The tweet appeared to be referring to the trade deficit with Mexico.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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