TOKYO -- U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday he is willing to bide his time to get a trade deal with China, claiming that an exodus of companies from the country will eventually force Beijing to come to an agreement.
The U.S. will "absolutely have a great trade deal" sometime with China, Trump said a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after a summit between the two leaders in Tokyo.
"As far as China is concerned, they want to make a deal," Trump said. "I think they probably wish they made the deal that they had on the table before they tried to renegotiate it."
The president added, however, that "We’re not ready to make a deal."
While it is unclear how long the tensions will linger between the world's two largest economies, recent decisions by some companies to move out of China appear to be giving Trump confidence.
Sharp said Monday it will move its laptop production for the American market to Southeast Asia from China, if Washington's next round of tariffs against China come into effect after June. Ricoh, a Japanese office equipment maker, plans to shift to Thailand its output of multifunction printers shipping to the U.S.
China-based Western companies say their operations in the country have been negatively affected in recent months, according to recent surveys by the American and European Union chambers of commerce in China. Nearly 41% of American companies with businesses in China are considering moving or have moved their manufacturing facilities outside the mainland.
"You know businesses are leaving China by the hundreds by the thousands going into areas that are non-tariff including the United States," Trump said. "But they're going to different parts of Asia, Vietnam, frankly Japan... because people don't want to pay."
The U.S. elevated tariffs on almost all products from China to 25% earlier this month. In a retaliatory move, Beijing announced a similar levy on goods from America.
Washington has put Huawei on a so-called entity list that prohibits American companies from dealing with the Chinese firm, saying that exporting parts and equipment to the company could hurt U.S. security.
Trump stressed that he thought tariffs will continue to squeeze China.
"We will have a very good deal with China sometime into the future because I don't believe that China could continue to pay these hundreds and billions of dollars," Trump said. "There's a very good chance of United States and China will have a very good trade deal," Trump said.
The joint news conference fell on the third day of Trump's four-day visit to Japan. Trump also discussed trade, security issues, North Korea and Iran in his talks with Abe.
Trump will visit Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, the site of a U.S. naval base and a Japanese Self-Defense Forces base, to tour the JS Kaga, one of Japan's largest warships on Tuesday. He will depart later that day