Politics

'Excuses!' Trump claims 'badly run and weak companies' are using China tariffs as a scapegoat

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump argues "badly run and weak companies" are blaming his tariffs on China for difficulties they face.
  • Trump has been putting blame on the Federal Reserve, rather than his trade war with the world's second-largest economy, as concerns grow about a looming recession.
President Donald Trump
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

President Donald Trump on Friday argued "badly run and weak companies" have blamed his trade war with China for flagging business in order to mask "bad management."

His tweet comes as more companies from a range of industries have started to slam his tariffs on about $550 billion in Chinese goods. Earlier this week, more than 160 industry groups criticized Trump's latest move to slap duties on Chinese products.

Trump, who has tried to pin blame on the Federal Reserve rather than his trade conflict with the world's second-largest economy as concerns about a looming recession grow, said companies "are smartly blaming these small Tariffs" for their difficulties.

"And who can really blame them for doing that? Excuses!" the president tweeted.

As he seeks reelection to the White House next year, Trump has fixated on the strength of the U.S. economy. He has tried to balance a desire to crack down on what he calls Beijing's trade abuses while trying not to do too much damage to U.S. stock markets or key constituencies such as farmers.

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Tariffs on goods from China can raise costs for many U.S. companies. In turn, they often have to pass the increases on to customers who buy their products. While Trump has repeatedly argued his administration's duties would not hurt consumers, he appeared to acknowledge the effect of his policy when he delayed certain tariffs because of the upcoming holiday shopping season.

In a statement responding to Trump's tweet, Americans for Free Trade spokeswoman Bethany Aronhalt disputed that businesses had used tariffs as a scapegoat. 

"Tariffs are taxes that cost American jobs and hurt consumers, creating a problem for the entire U.S. economy," she said. "The fact that companies find extra taxes as high as 30 percent challenging is not an excuse, it's an economic reality." 

Trump has fixed his ire on the Fed in recent weeks as fears about a slowdown mount. In a tweet earlier Friday, he claimed the U.S. only has its central bank to blame rather than trade policy.

"We don't have a Tariff problem (we are reigning in bad and/or unfair players), we have a Fed problem. They don't have a clue!" he wrote.

The White House has pushed for a trade deal with China to get Beijing to address issues such as intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers. Trump also wants China to buy more American crops.

While concerns about the trade war battered U.S. stocks earlier this month, markets recovered this week as China signaled it did not want to further escalate the conflict.

— CNBC's Elizabeth Myong contributed to this report

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