The President appeared to be hinting at tariffs on Vietnam’s exports.
In an interview with Fox Business on Wednesday, President Trump went after Vietnam, alleging that the country has taken advantage of the US-China trade war to benefit itself.
“Vietnam takes advantage of us even worse than China,” Mr Trump said. He added that Vietnam was “almost the single worst abuser of everybody.”
Mr Trump appeared to be referring to the fact that some companies had decided to move their operations from China to Vietnam as a result of the trade war, rather than back to the US as he had hoped. Mr Trump declined to say definitively whether the US was considering imposing tariffs on Vietnam’s exports to the US, saying only that the two countries are “in discussions.”
Experts have been calling Vietnam a winner in the trade war between the US and China: companies have avoided tariffs on Chinese goods by re-routing a large percentage of their orders to Vietnam. Some have raised the specter of currency manipulation. A recent report from the Wall Street Journal accuses Vietnam of transshipment: citing a sharp increase in Chinese exports to Vietnam and a concurrent increase in Vietnam’s exports to the US of the same goods (mostly electronics, computers, machinery, and other equipment), the WSJ said Vietnam might have been repackaging imported goods from China and exporting them to the US as products originating from Vietnam.
According to the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. imported $47.8 billion of Vietnamese goods and services last year, while it exported $10.5 billion’s worth. President Trump has often criticized countries that maintain a trade surplus with the US, saying that they have taken advantage of the US at the expense of American workers.