Trump administration dials down the rhetoric on China tariffs

WASHINGTON — After threatening to slap China with new tariffs, Trump administration officials on Sunday softened some of the rhetoric, noting that the penalties aren’t imminent and there is ample time to work out a deal and step back from a possible trade war.

President Donald Trump on Thursday signaled an escalation in a trade dispute with China, warning that he might impose tariffs on an additional $100 billion of goods imported from China, apart from tariffs on $50 billion in imports he had announced earlier in the week. China, in turn, cautioned that it would “hit back forcefully” if the U.S. carried out the threat.

The specter of rolling tariffs and retaliatory action by China rattled markets: the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -2.34%   closed down 572 points, or 2.3%, on Friday.

In interviews on the Sunday talk shows, senior Trump administration officials played down talk of a looming trade war, a message that could help calm markets. Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “I don’t expect there will be a trade war” and that the U.S.’s intention is to “continue to have discussions with China.”

Tweeting on Sunday, Trump struck a hopeful note that China and the U.S. can reach an accord absent a trade war.

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