WASHINGTON - US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump called for higher tariffs on Chinese goods if China does not stop engaging in practices to devalue their currency.
Trump reiterated a call he has made for a 45 per cent tariff to offset devaluation.
The billionaire businessman also criticised Japan, saying the country is engaging in similar practices and pointed to competition between tractors made by US company Caterpillar Inc and those made by Japan's Komatsu Ltd. "They're devaluing their currency, and they're killing our companies," Trump said.
"We are letting them get away with it, and we can't let them get away with it." The question of how best to respond to China's currency devaluation become a topic of discussion between the Republican presidential hopefuls in Thursday night's debate.
"The police are the most mistreated people in this country." Wow. #DonaldTrump #blacklivesmatter #GOPDebate pic.twitter.com/4VvFHjeK3Y— Wilkie Ferguson (@wilkieferguson) January 15, 2016
That was an impressive pary by #DonaldTrump on trade by pointing out currency floating vs tariffs. #GOPDebate— Andrew Wilkow (@WilkowMajority) January 15, 2016
#DonaldTrump wrong on China currency. It is now overvalued, not under. Market pressure on RMB is to weaken. PBoC intervening the other way.— Doug Rediker (@DougRediker) January 15, 2016
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush criticised Trump for calling for higher tariffs, saying that would only prompt retaliation against American-made goods. "This would be devastating for our economy," Bush said in response.
"We need someone with a steady hand being president of the United States." US Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said he opposes tariffs on Chinese goods because it would only increase prices for American consumers.
"China doesn't pay the tariff, the buyer pays the tariff. If you send a tie or a shirt made in China into the United States, and an American goes to buy it at the store and there's a tariff on it, it gets passed on in the price to the consumer," Rubio said.
Trump responded that Rubio's approach - to simply build the American economy in response - would take too long. "You absolutely have to get involved with China, they are taking so much of what we have in terms of jobs, in terms of money," Trump said.
"We just can't do it any longer." US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas agreed that a tariff would not solve the trade problem with China.
"If we just impose a tariff, they'll put reciprocal tariffs, which will hurt Iowa farmers and South Carolina producers and 20 per cent of the American jobs that depend on exports," Cruz said, referring to two of the early voting states in the presidential nominating contest.