BUFFETT: I don't think the US and China will end up in a trade war

Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty ImagesUS President Donald Trump with China’s President Xi Jinping on November 9, 2017 in Beijing, China.
  • Warren Buffett was asked at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting about the recent trade tensions between the US and China.
  • Buffett downplayed the recent spat of protectionism and said that both countries will realise that trade is a good thing.
  • Buffett said, when you have two major economic players “there will be times when there are tensions.”
  • Follow Business Insider’s coverage of Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting 2018.

Warren Buffett downplayed the risks of the recent spat of trade tensions between the US and China during Saturday’s Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting.

Buffett said the US and China are the two dominant economic players in the world, which inevitably leads to conflict.

“Like any two big economic entities, there will be times when there are tensions,” Buffett said.

Buffett also said that he doesn’t think the two countries will “do anything that will precipitate in a trade war.”

But, the legendary investor thinks both countries will recognise the long-term benefits of free trade and it’s unlikely that trade between the two will grind to a halt.

“It’s just too big and too obvious that the benefits are huge and the world is dependent on it in many ways for its progress,” Buffett said.

The comments come after President Donald Trump’s recent trade attacks on China including proposed tariffs on $US50 billion worth of Chinese goods and tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium. A delegation made up of representatives from the Trump administration spent Thursday and Friday in China negotiating possible changes to the US-China trade relationship.

The tariffs and demands made by the US delegation – most notably a 60% reduction in the US-China trade deficit – worried economists and raised the possibility of a trade war between the two nations.

Buffett hinted at the idea that these crackdowns might be a temporary hiccup in the trading relationship.

“We both may do things that are mildly foolish from time to time,” the Berkshire Hathaway CEO said.

Buffett also insisted the trade deficit, which Trump has consistently bemoaned, is not really a problem for the US.

“When you think about it, it’s really not the worst thing in the world for someone to send you things you want and you hand them a piece of paper,” Buffett said.

The legendary investor also said that the president should try and explain the benefits of trade to citizens because they are sometimes hard to see.

Follow along with all of Business Insider’s coverage of the Berkshire Hathaway meeting here.

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