Trump's latest US$200 billion China tariffs target consumers

China urges domestic firms to boost non American imports as trade war with US escalates

Fabian Bimmer Reuters

Some companies had successfully lobbied to get their products excluded from an earlier list of United States tariffs.

The US Trade Representative office will hold hearings on the targeted products and it's expected it will take about two months to finalize the list, at which point Mr Trump would decide whether to go ahead with the tariffs.

They expect the tariffs to be implemented, which is likely to further escalate the trade war resulting in $US450 billion worth of USA tariffs.

All told, Trump has threatened eventually to slap tariffs on up to $550 billion in Chinese imports - more than China actually exported to the United States a year ago - if Beijing won't relent to US pressure and continues to retaliate.

"For over a year, the Trump administration has patiently urged China to stop its unfair practices, open its market, and engage in true market competition", U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in announcing the proposed tariffs.

Mr Lighthizer said the products targeted by the tariffs are those that benefit from China's industrial policy and forced technology transfer.

President Donald Trump has said he may ultimately impose tariffs on more than $500 billion worth of Chinese goods - roughly the total amount of USA imports from China previous year.

US Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch described the move was "reckless".

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But China has rebuffed United States complaints and denied any harm was done to USA companies, and instead retaliated "without any global legal basis or justification", Lighthizer said.

The US is planning to implement 25 per cent tariffs on a further $US16 billion worth of Chinese imports within the next fortnight.

Robert Holleyman, the USA official in charge of trade with Asia during former president Barack Obama's second term, described the tariffs as "tax hikes on US imports". China has vowed to retaliate dollar-for-dollar to any further USA tariffs.

They are meant to put pressure on China to stop stealing USA companies' trade secrets and forcing them to hand over intellectual property to Chinese firms as a condition of doing business there.

Trump administration officials, for their part, argue that the Obama administration's preferred methods for dealing with unfair trade practices - negotiations and litigation at the World Trade Organization - were ineffective, and it is time to take a harder line.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has supported Trump's domestic tax cuts and efforts to reduce regulation of businesses, but it has been critical of Trump's aggressive tariff policies. "Unfortunately, China has not changed its behaviour".

Administration officials said they hoped the measures would convince the Chinese government to increase market access for USA companies and address allegations of the theft of intellectual property.

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