President Donald Trump plans to proceed with duties on roughly $200 billion more worth in Chinese goods as soon as Monday, a senior administration official confirmed Saturday, 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 percent tariff rate on the $200 billion list of goods, the official told POLITICO. But those tariffs could reach as high as 25 percent, as Trump proposed last month increasing the tariff rate.
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“We’ll start at 10,” the official said.
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 U.S. companies doing business there. A public comment period on Trump’s latest set of tariffs formally ended last week, 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 $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. 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 U.S. economic interests, including farmers, families, business, and workers,” the National Retail Federation and 150 other business groups said in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer this month.
The president has also threatened to impose tariffs on virtually all $505 billion that the United States imports from China. “I hate to say that, but behind that, there’s another $267 billion ready to go on short notice if I want,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One last week.
Trump kept up his tough talk on China earlier this 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.
A White House spokeswoman on Friday confirmed that Trump intended to move ahead with the tariffs in response to a Bloomberg report that said Trump had instructed aides to prepare to impose them.
“The President has been clear that he and his administration will continue to take action to address China’s unfair trade practices. We encourage China to address the long standing concerns raised by the Unites States,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said on Friday.
Walters said Saturday she had no further comment at this time.
Beijing has threatened to retaliate with tariffs ranging from 5 to 25 percent on an additional $60 billion in U.S. products as soon as the Chinese tariffs are imposed.
So far, China has responded in kind to Trump’s tariffs – slapping an equivalent $53 billion in U.S. exports to China, much of which has been U.S. agricultural goods. But the U.S. exports only about $130 billion in U.S. 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 $200 billion in goods as soon as next week was first reported by The Washington Post.
Doug Palmer contributed to this report.