Warren Buffett downplays the chances of a US-China trade war

Warren Buffett downplays the chances of a US-China trade war

trump xi china

Andrew Harnik/AP

FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2017, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, second left, first lady Melania Trump, left, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan stand together as they tour the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. As President Donald Trump steers his administration's focus inward, China has stepped into what many see as a U.S.-sized void left behind in Southeast Asia. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

  • 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 realize 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.

But, the legendary investor thinks both countries will recognize 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 $50 billion worth of Chinese goods and tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. 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.


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