US leader plans fresh China tariffs

President Donald Trump warned on Friday he was ready to slap tariffs on virtually all Chinese imports into the US, threatening duties on another $267 billion of goods on top of $200 billion in imports primed for levies in coming days.

By Reuters
  • Published 9.09.18
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A man in front of a billboard at a restaurant in Guangzhou, China, that says American customers will be charged 25 per cent extra because of China-US trade tensions . (AP)

Aboard Air Force One/ Washington: President Donald Trump warned on Friday he was ready to slap tariffs on virtually all Chinese imports into the US, threatening duties on another $267 billion of goods on top of $200 billion in imports primed for levies in coming days.

The moves would sharply escalate Trump's trade war with Beijing over his demands for major changes in economic, trade and technology policy. China has threatened retaliation, which could include action against US companies operating there.

Hours after a public comment period closed on his $200 billion China tariff list, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that he was "being strong on China because I have to be".

"The $200 billion we are talking about could take place very soon depending on what happens with them. To a certain extent it's going to be up to China," Trump said. "And I hate to say this, but behind that is another $267 billion ready to go on short notice if I want. That totally changes the equation."

Stock prices slipped after his comments, with the S&P 500 off 0.2 per cent, while China's off-shore trade yuan currency fell against the dollar.

There was no immediate reaction to Trump's comments from the Chinese government, and the threat of more tariffs had not been reported by mainstream state-owned Chinese media as of Saturday evening.

Trump has already imposed 25 per cent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, mostly industrial machinery and intermediate electronics parts, including semiconductors.

The $200 billion list, which includes some consumer products such as cameras and recording devices, luggage, handbags, tires and vacuum cleaners, would be subject to tariffs of 10 percent to 25 per cent.

Cell phones, the biggest US import from China, have so far been spared, but would be engulfed if Trump activates the $267 billion tariff list.

Trump's threatened tariffs, now totalling $517 billion in Chinese goods, would exceed the $505 billion in goods imported from China last year.

But 2018 imports from China through July were up nearly 9 per cent over the same period of 2017, according to US Census Bureau data.

Earlier on Friday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Bloomberg Television the administration would evaluate public comments before making decisions on the $200 billion tariff list.

The US Trade Representative's office received nearly 6,000 comments and held seven days of public hearings on the proposed levies.