Trump threatens additional tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods


President Donald Trump just raised the stakes in the fight with China over trade.

The White House said Monday evening that if China goes through with its promise to retaliate against the US tariffs announced last week, the United States will impose tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

“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 with the United States,” Trump said in a statement.

The Trump administration said Friday that it will impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion of Chinese exports. China, claiming the United States had “launched a trade war,” retaliated almost immediately, outlining its own tariffs on US goods worth $50 billion.

The escalating conflict between the world’s two largest economies has rattled markets and companies, which fear disruption to their global supply chains.

Related: American businesses brace for pain from trade fight with China

The Trump tariffs, which the US government says are punishment for intellectual property theft, will be enacted in two waves. More than 800 exports, about $34 billion worth, will be subject to tariffs starting July 6. Another 280 or so still need to undergo a public comment period, and will take effect later.

Trump said Monday that China’s response “indicates its determination to keep the United States at a permanent and unfair disadvantage.” China’s tariffs would target agricultural products, cars and seafood, among other items.

“China apparently has no intention of changing its unfair practices related to the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology,” he said. “Rather than altering those practices, it is now threatening United States companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong.”

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He directed Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to identify $200 billion worth of Chinese goods for additional 10% tariffs, which would be enacted “if China refuses to change its practices, and also if it insists on going forward with the new tariffs that it has recently announced.”

The planned new wave of tariffs would have to go through the same process of public consultation and comment before taking effect.

Related: China says ‘The US has launched a trade war’

There was no immediate response from the Chinese government to the new threat. It responded angrily to the US tariff announcement on Friday, accusing the United States of launching a trade war.

Beijing has said previously it will respond to any additional US moves with new measures of its own. But it faces challenges in doing so: China ships far more goods to the United States ($505 billion last year, according to US figures) than come back in the opposite direction ($130 billion).

To respond to Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on as much as $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, Beijing would have to find other ways to respond.

Analysts say the Chinese government could target trade in services between the two countries rather than physical products. That means things like tourism and education, industries from which the United States benefits a lot more than China does.

Beijing could also seek to make life difficult for big US companies that rely on the Chinese market for a big chunk of their revenue. It showed a willingness to do that to South Korean businesses last year during a period of tension between the two Asian countries.

— Jethro Mullen contributed to this report.

CNNMoney (New York) First published June 18, 2018: 8:12 PM ET

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