Donald Trump has issued an “order” to US companies to withdraw from China, as he suggested his own appointment as Federal Reserve chairman was a greater threat to the economy than Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
The president told firms “to immediately start looking for an alternative” or make their products in America instead as he lashed out at the central bank’s chair Jerome Powell.
His Twitter outburst, which came shortly after China announced its latest retaliation in the ongoing trade war, prompted the US stock market to plunge more than 400 points, or 1.6 per cent,
Mr Trump is facing increasing pressure over the performance of the US economy amid speculation a looming recession could cost him the 2020 presidential election.
In recent weeks he has repeatedly urged the Federal Reserve to take action by cutting interest rates further than the quarter-point decrease announced last month.
Minutes after Mr Powell finished a speech to a gathering of bankers in Wyoming, at which he gave no clear indication of another cut, Mr Trump tweeted: “As usual, the Fed did NOTHING!”
The president added: “We have a very strong dollar and a very weak Fed. I will work “brilliantly” with both, and the US will do great... My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?”
Mr Trump then suggested that the US “would be far better off” without its trade with China before adding: “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.”
....My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)August 23, 2019
However he gave no details of how he could compel US companies to follow his “order”.
The president also said he was ordering Fed Ex, Amazon, UPS and the US Postal Service to begin searching for fentanyl in all packages from China.
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“Fentanyl kills 100,000 Americans a year,” he added. “President Xi said this would stop – it didn’t.”
On Friday China announced it was slapping tariffs of five to ten per cent on $75 billion of US goods including oil, light aircraft, cars and agricultural products.
Mr Trump said he would respond to China’s retaliatory tariff increase “this afternoon”.