WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump on Monday directed the U.S. trade representative to prepare new tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports as the two nations moved closer to a potential trade war.
The tariffs, which Trump wants set at a 10 percent rate, would be the latest round of punitive measures in an escalating dispute over the large trade imbalance between the two countries. Trump recently ordered tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods in retaliation for intellectual property theft. China quickly retaliated with tariffs on U.S. exports including beef, poultry, tobacco, cars and soybeans.
Both nations started putting the trade tariffs in motion, and they are set to take effect July 6. It wasn't immediately clear when the new tariffs could be put in place, as the trade office has yet to identify the Chinese goods to be penalized or conduct a legal review.
"China apparently has no intention of changing its unfair practices related to the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology," Trump said in a statement Monday announcing the new action. "Rather than altering those practices, it is now threatening United States companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong."
Trump added: "These tariffs will go into effect if China refuses to change its practices, and also if it insists on going forward with the new tariffs that it has recently announced."
China's Commerce Ministry criticized the latest threat of tariffs today, saying it was an "act of extreme pressure and blackmail that deviates from the consensus reached by both parties after many negotiations, and is a disappointment to the international community."
"If the U.S. becomes irrational and issues this list, China will have no choice but to adopt strong countermeasures of the same amount and quality," the Commerce Ministry statement said.
Trump said that if China responds to the tariffs that he's threatening, then he will move to counter "by pursuing additional tariffs on another $200 billion of goods."
All told, the Trump administration is threatening to impose tariffs on as much as $450 billion worth of goods, including an earlier round -- a sum nearly as large as the total value of goods China sent the United States last year, which was $505.6 billion. The U.S. exported about $130 billion to China last year, leaving a 2017 trade deficit of $376 billion, according to U.S. government figures.
Trump's latest salvo in a brewing trade war would mean that a sizable amount of Chinese goods shipped to the U.S. would be exposed to tariff threats. The move also raises new questions about the effect on American consumers.
The White House says the U.S. can withstand trade tensions.
China's retaliation "clearly indicates its determination to keep the United States at a permanent and unfair disadvantage," Trump said Monday. "This is unacceptable. Further action must be taken to encourage China to change its unfair practices, open its market to United States goods, and accept a more balanced trade relationship. The trade relationship between the United States and China must be much more equitable."
Trump's comments came hours after the top U.S. diplomat accused China of engaging in "predatory economics 101" and an "unprecedented level of larceny" of intellectual property.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the remarks at the Detroit Economic Club as global markets reacted to trade tensions between the U.S. and China.
He said China's recent claims of "openness and globalization" are "a joke." He added that China is a "predatory economic government" that is "long overdue in being tackled," citing matters that include intellectual property theft and Chinese steel and aluminum flooding the U.S. market.
"Everyone knows ... China is the main perpetrator," he said. "It's an unprecedented level of larceny."
Trump had announced a 25 percent tariff on up to $50 billion in Chinese imports. China is retaliating by raising import duties on $34 billion worth of American goods, including soybeans, electric cars and whiskey. Trump also has slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from China and allies in Canada, Mexico and Europe.
Wall Street has viewed the escalating trade tensions with wariness, fearful they could strangle the economic growth achieved during Trump's watch.
In his statement, Trump said he has an "excellent relationship" with Xi, "but the United States will no longer be taken advantage of on trade by China and other countries in the world."
Information for this article was contributed by Jeff Karoub, Zeke Miller and Ken Thomas of The Associated Press; by Katie Rogers, Ana Swanson and Keith Bradsher of The New York Times; and by Randall Woods and Jenny Leonard of Bloomberg News.
A Section on 06/19/2018
Print Headline: U.S. plans new tariffs for China