Donald Trump could impose tariffs on US$200 billion in Chinese goods this week

The tariffs could reach as high as 25 per cent

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 September, 2018, 6:32am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 September, 2018, 3:47pm

This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Sabrina Rodriguez and Eliana Johnson on on September 15, 2018.

US President Donald Trump plans to proceed with duties on roughly US$200 billion more worth in Chinese goods as soon as Monday, a senior administration official confirmed, escalating what has already become a protracted trade battle between the world’s two largest economies.

The White House could announce on Monday or Tuesday that it will slap a 10 per cent tariff rate on the US$200 billion list of goods, the official told POLITICO.

But those tariffs could reach as high as 25 per cent, as Trump proposed last month increasing the tariff rate.

“We’ll start at 10,” the official said.

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The administration has threatened these set of tariffs for months as punishment for China’s policies that have resulted in intellectual property theft or mandated technology transfers on US companies doing business in China.

A public comment period on Trump’s latest set of tariffs formally ended earlier this month, clearing the way for the president to make good on the threat.

In recent months, the administration has typically done an analysis of public comments before carrying through on announced tariffs, which right now are imposed on about US$53 billion in Chinese imports.

But Trump’s remarks in recent weeks have indicated that he does not want to delay his plan.

However, pressure from American businesses may have succeeded in the administration restraining its fire just a bit in the latest round.

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Many businesses had urged Trump to consider the effects of the tariffs on consumers, especially ahead of the retail holiday season.

“Continuing the tit-for-tat tariff escalation with China only serves to expand the harm to more US economic interests, including farmers, families, business, and workers,” the National Retail Federation and 150 other business groups said in a letter to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer this month.

The president has also threatened to impose tariffs on virtually all US$505 billion that the United States imports from China.

“I hate to say that, but behind that, there’s another US$267 billion ready to go on short notice if I want,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One this month.

Trump kept up his tough talk on China last week even as his administration and Chinese leaders laid plans to resume trade talks later this month.

“We are under no pressure to make a deal with China, they are under pressure to make a deal with us. Our markets are surging, theirs are collapsing. We will soon be taking in Billions in Tariffs & making products at home. If we meet, we meet?” Trump posted on Twitter on Thursday.

Beijing has threatened to retaliate with tariffs ranging from 5 to 25 per cent on an additional US$60 billion in US products as soon as the Chinese tariffs are imposed.

So far, China has responded in kind to Trump’s tariffs – slapping an equivalent US$53 billion in US exports to China, much of which has been US agricultural goods.

But the US exports only about US$130 billion in US goods, meaning China could have to look beyond tariffs to retaliate against Trump’s latest trade action.

News of Trump’s plans to proceed on tariffs on US$200 billion in goods as soon as this week was first reported by The Washington Post.

Doug Palmer contributed to this report.