President Donald Trump is ready to proceed with tariffs on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese goods in the absence of a trade deal, according to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Speaking to CNBC's Phil LeBeau at the Paris Airshow Monday, Ross said enforcement would be the most important element of any potential deal between the world's two largest economies.
"We will eventually make a deal, but if we don't, the president is perfectly happy with continuing the tariff movements that we've already announced, as well as imposing the new ones that he has temporarily suspended," Ross said.
His comments directly echo those of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week, indicating that the administration is unified on its plan in the event that talks fall apart.
Trump unexpectedly accused China of reneging on a deal early last month and announced that tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would increase to 25% from 10% on May 10. Beijing retaliated, raising levies on $60 billion worth of U.S. products. Releasing a much-anticipated white paper in early June, China said the global trade problems were started by the United States and claimed Washington had been unreliable during talks.
Ross played down the prospect of an agreement being reached at the G-20 meeting in Osaka on June 28-29, where Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to be in attendance.
He said the G-20 was not a place "where you're going to negotiate a 2,500 page agreement," adding that "there may be an agreement on the path forward, but that's about as far as we can expect it to go."
Ross also indicated that Washington was prepared to deploy tariffs on auto imports in order to pressure foreign carmarkers into manufacturing on U.S. soil.
"The U.S. market is the healthiest auto market in the world right now. The Chinese market has been crumbling, European market is stumbling as well," he said.
"In the American market, the big cars are what sell best in the States, and those are the highest profit margin cars, so there is a big logic, independently of what actions we are taking on trade, for more capital investment by foreign makers in the U.S. We are just accelerating that with the potential tariffs."
Ross added that the U.S. president was "giving very serious thought" to putting tariffs an all auto imports, including those from the European Union.