Trump presses China to reverse stance on structural reform if it wants trade deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he was holding up a trade deal with China and had no interest in moving ahead unless Beijing agrees again to four or five “major points” that Trump did not specify.

“China is a major competitor and right now China wants to make a deal very badly,” Trump told reporters at the White House as he departed on a trip to Iowa. “It’s me right now that’s holding up the deal. And we’re going to either do a great deal with China or we’re not doing a deal at all.”

The United States is seeking sweeping structural changes and also wants curbs on subsidies for Chinese state-owned enterprises and better access for U.S. firms to Chinese markets.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing flared in May after the Trump administration accused China of reneging on promises to make structural economic changes during months of trade talks.

“We had a deal with China and then they went back on the deal. They said we don’t want to have four major points, five major points. ... But we had a deal with China and unless they go back to that deal, I have no interest,” Trump said on Tuesday.

Trump has imposed 25% tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports and has threatened to impose tariffs on another $300 billion worth of imports unless the countries reach an agreement. Beijing has retaliated with tariffs on a $60 billion in U.S. goods.

Trump has said he expects to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Japan later this month.

Trump has repeatedly said China would like to make a trade deal and that tariffs are bringing in billions of dollars to the United States.

“China would like to make a deal very badly. They’re getting hurt very badly by the tariffs because companies can’t pay the tariffs so they’re leaving China,” Trump told reporters.

He rejected suggestions that tariffs were harming U.S. consumers, insisting that China was footing the bill.

“What it’s doing is creating a fair playing field, which we’ve never had since the WTO, the World Trade Organization,” he said.

Reporting by Makini Brice; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by David Gregorio