President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the Dow Jones industrial average would be thousands of points higher if it weren’t for the trade war with China, which he started last year in an attempt to address trade practices officials said put the US at a disadvantage.
“Let me tell you, if I wanted to do nothing with China, my stock market, our stock market would be 10,000 points higher than it is right now,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “But somebody had to do this. To me, this is much more important than the economy … It was out of control. They were out of control.”
Although the Dow has climbed over 1,000 points since Trump first announced tariffs on all imports of steel and aluminum— including metals from China — it’s suffered a handful of big setbacks in recent months and seen its upside capped as tensions have escalated. On Wednesday, the Dow rose 0.9% to 26,355.47.
Going beyond the equity market, the trade war has also weighed on the global economy, spurring a slowdown that’s threatened to push the US into recession.
The Trump administration has struggled over the past year to win concessions from China on key issues, ranging from intellectual property theft to an enforcement mechanism. The two sides raised tariffs on each other’s products Sunday and doubled down on plans for further escalation.
US trade negotiators were in touch with their Chinese counterparts as recently as last week, according to the White House, but Trump would not say Wednesday whether an in-person meeting would happen this month.
“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “If they want to make a deal, they’ll make a deal. If they don’t want to make a deal, that’s fine.”