Trump threatens additional US$100b China tariffs

Xinhua
"In light of China's unfair retaliation, I have instructed the USTR to consider whether US$100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate under section 301..."
Xinhua
Imaginechina

US President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable discussion on tax policy on April 5, 2018.

US President Donald Trump Thursday said he has asked the US Trade Representative to consider slapping US$100 billion of additional tariffs on China, ratcheting up trade tensions and plunging economic growth into uncertainty.

"In light of China's unfair retaliation, I have instructed the USTR to consider whether US$100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate under section 301 and, if so, to identify the products upon which to impose such tariffs," he said in a statement issued by the White House.

Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 gives the US Government rule-making authority, enabling it to enforce trade agreements and resolve trade disputes.

Thursday's gesture is the latest protectionist trade action threat against China. Earlier this week, the USTR proposed to impose an additional 25 percent tariff on US$50 billion of imports from China, which has been strongly opposed by various business groups.

China on Wednesday unveiled a list of products worth of US$50 billion imported from the United States that will be subject to higher tariffs.

Any additional tariffs proposed will be subject to a public comment process like in the case of the proposed tariffs announced on April 3, a USTR statement on Thursday said.

"No tariffs will go into effect until the respective process is complete," the USTR said.

Trump also said that the United States is still ready to have discussions with China.

Despite Washington's continuous protectionist moves, White House officials in recent days have been trying to tamp down any potential escalation of trade tensions with China.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told local media on Thursday that he expected the United States and China to work out their trade differences over time and that trade barriers are likely to come down on both sides.

US business groups have warned the Trump administration not to move forward with its tariff plan on Chinese imports as it would raise costs for American consumers and companies as well as negatively affect the financial markets.

"A 25 percent tariff on US soybeans into China will have a devastating effect on every soybean farmer in America," John Heisdorffer, president of the American Soybean Association, said in a statement on Wednesday.

"But there is still time to reverse this damage, and the administration can still deliver for farmers by withdrawing the tariffs that caused this retaliation," he added.

Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai on Wednesday urged Washington to abandon its "unilateral and protectionist practices" and terminate the Section 301 investigation as early as possible.


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