The monthly goods deficit grew by $1 billion in October, according to a US Census report released Wednesday.
Absent some agreement, the rate of the existing tariffs on US$200 billion (NZ$291 billion) of China's exports to the United States will rise from 10 per cent to 25 per cent from January 1. Another USD 200 billion has been hit with a 10 per cent tariff with plans to increase that to 25 per cent on January 1.
Trump, whose economic record is likely to be a key factor in his race for re-election in 2020, lashed out at General Motors (GE) after the company's recent announcement of US layoffs and plant closures and threatened additional tariffs.
China has retaliated with tariffs of its own on U.S. imports. "And, believe me, I'll be putting them on because China has been ripping off our country for many, many years".
But, at the same time, he cautioned the US was prepared to forge ahead with the new tariffs in the belief China would fold first.
That's the opposite of what Trump wants to achieve.
Trump said on Thursday he was open to a trade deal with China but was not sure he wanted one.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is examining all available tools to raise U.S. tariffs on Chinese vehicles to the 40 percent duties that China is now charging on U.S. -produced vehicles.
Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping are expected to address what the US calls China's theft of American technology and IP when they meet Saturday evening at the two-day G20 summit in Buenos Aires. It is their only scheduled meeting before the end of the year. But Trump escalated tensions earlier in the week, when he repeated a threat to put tariffs on the remaining Chinese goods if a deal can't be reached.
China's head however has vowed that China would boost protection of intellectual property.
Mr Macron initially tried to befriend Mr Trump despite their deep differences, but the two have increasingly clashed, most recently over wine tariffs, Mr Trump's nationalism and Mr Macron's idea of a European army.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she planned to press Putin on the issue, telling a Ukrainian business forum in Berlin on Thursday, "We can only resolve this in talks with one another because there is no military solution to all of these conflicts".
While others in the administration are also clearly concerned about China's growing geopolitical influence and see its "One Belt, One Road" initiative as inimical to United States interests, Trump's perspective is narrower and more parochial.
"But I think doing it in a multilateral way would have been a better approach", she said.
While the announcement sparked an immediate backlash from Trump - a threat to remove tax credits for GM's electric vehicles - the tariffs on imported steel and aluminium have nearly certainly been a factor in the decision.
The Argentine foreign minister pointed out that global trade has changed a lot over the past decades, making it necessary to "look at all the scenarios again to have rules that are adequate to the time we are living in".
Trump boasted Wednesday on Twitter that Steel Dynamics, based in Fort Wayne, Ind., was opening a new plant in the Southwest, creating 600 jobs.
GM's decision to close down major elements of its auto-making plants in the USA and Canada confirm that Trump's pledge to bring back traditional manufacturing jobs was vacuous nonsense.