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Peter Navarro insists US-China trade war isn't bad for American consumers

Bill McColl

President Trump threatened to hit China with more tariffs in a few weeks, but the administration downplayed concerns that the move will hurt American consumers.

“There’s a lot of people who are saying, incorrectly, that somehow the American consumer is bearing the burden of these China tariffs. And it’s just false,” Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, told FOX Business' Gerry Baker on Friday.

Trump said he plans to impose a 10 percent tariff on an additional $300 billion in imports from Beijing, including popular consumer items. The trade war between the world's two largest economies continued to escalate this week, when China said it would stop buying American agricultural products in retaliation.

But Navarro insisted that he wasn't worried, pointing to comments by former Toys 'R' Us CEO Jerry Storch, who told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo earlier this week that there's "too much hysteria" over trade tensions.

“He goes through chapter and verse why American consumers will feel virtually nothing from the China tariffs,” he said.  “And it has a lot to do with China devaluating their currency, lowering their prices, and the supply chain moving elsewhere and production moving elsewhere.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, however, said he strongly disagreed.

“If President Trump goes ahead with the 10 percent tariffs on all remaining Chinese goods come Sept. 1, that’s really going to increase the price of things like electronics, whether it’s game consoles to phones, clothing, Christmas decorations, and everything else -- and shoes,” he said.

Locke, who was appointed by President Obama and served in the post for three years, said combined with China’s response, these tariffs create a double-whammy for the U.S. consumer.

“It’s really going to impact consumers even more and it’s certainly, with the Chinese announcement that they’re going to stop buying U.S. agricultural goods, that’s going to hurt our farmers,” he said. “So this latest upping the ante of the trade war is not good for either side.”

Locke said his fingers are crossed that a deal can be reached to end the trade war.

“I really hope that we can cool down the rhetoric, we can get back to the bargaining table,” he said  “I don’t think that whatever agreement is reached will be as grand a bargain as people originally hoped for several months ago and -- as we were headed.”

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But will those talks even happen anytime soon?  On Friday, Trump dismissed the possibility of a near-term deal.

“We’re talking to China, but we’re not ready to make a deal," he told reporters.

Navarro said he wonders if the Chinese are really ready, too.

“In September, we’re planning on having them come here if they come,” he said. “That’s uncertain at this point. But they have to make their mind.”

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