US media reported that President Donald trump has directed aides to move forward to add tariffs against Chinese goods worth $ 200 billion. The news followed a meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington. The move is sure to attract retaliation from China if ratified, as the two economic giants have traded punches since July by imposing levies on one another’s goods worth $ 50 billion.
It is not clear what instigated the move, but it would be a major escalation to an initially moderate effort to influence Chinese policy with the first round of levies mainly targeting technology imports. With last week comments where he warned there could be even more duties on Chinese products worth $ 267 billion, it means the tariffs would potentially constitute the entirety of Chinese imports.
Attempts led by Mnunchin to revive talks are ongoing though the President took a typically hard-line stance on Twitter by vowing not to “back down”, further stating the pressure was on Beijing to close a deal. This was after Treasury extended an invitation to senior Chinese officials to discuss issues between the two biggest economies in the world.
Trump has followed up on his pledge to tame Chinese trade policies he deems unfair by stipulating China reduces the trade deficit against the US, change practices targeting US technology and intellectual property and allow US companies better access to Chinese markets. Trump believes such changes will stimulate job creation and strengthen the private sector, outcomes that would be a fulfilment of some of his election promises.
The White House asserted that the Trump administration would continue pushing against unfair trade practices by China, urging Beijing to address concerns raised by the United States.
Beijing on its part vowed to also sanction US imports to China, though the deficit means they could run out of room to effectively pursue this option.
Reports of the plans, first coming in Bloomberg, saw US stocks trade lower, while the Chinese yuan dropped and the dollar made gains.