Trump ups ante on China, threatens duties on $267 billion more imports

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump warned on Friday that he has tariffs ready to go on $267 billion worth of Chinese imports in addition to the $200 billion of the Asian nation’s goods already facing the risk of duties.

U.S. President Donald Trump walks to Marine One while departing the White House in Washington, U.S., September 6, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Implementing both sets of tariffs would subject virtually all U.S. imports from China to new duties as the world’s two largest economies escalate their trade war over Trump’s demands that Beijing make major economic policy changes.

“The $200 billion we are talking about could take place very soon depending on what happens with them. To a certain extent its 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 changes the equation.”

Trump has already imposed 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, mostly industrial machinery and intermediate electronics parts, including semiconductors. A public comment period ended late on Thursday on a $200 billion list of consumer and other Chinese goods that would be subject to tariffs of 10 percent to 25 percent.

The United States imported $505 billion in goods from China last year, and 2018 Chinese imports through July were up nearly 9 percent over the same period of 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

The dollar gained around 0.4 percent against China’s off-shore traded yuan following Trump’s comments. U.S. stocks also weakened further, with the S&P 500 dropping about 0.3 percent

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

FILE PHOTO: Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow speaks to reporters at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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

“The president himself, we will evaluate the comments and we will make a decision regarding the $200 billion,” Kudlow said on Bloomberg Television. “We’ll make a decision on the volume, on the rate, on the timing, I don’t want to get ahead of that curve, it’s out there.”


Kudlow, who heads the National Economic Council, separately told CNBC that the administration was still talking with China about trade issues but that so far China had not met U.S. requests.

The United States has demanded that China better protect American intellectual property, cut its U.S. trade surplus, allow U.S. companies greater access to its markets and roll back its high technology industrial subsidy programs.

“We are still talking with China on a number of issues … Those talks will continue to go on. We want lower (trade) barriers across the board,” Kudlow said.

Specifically, Kudlow said, the United States was seeking “zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, zero subsidies, stop the IP theft, stop the technology transfer, allow Americans to own their own companies.”

“Those have been our asks for many months and so far those asks have not been satisfied,” he said. “However, hope springs eternal.”

Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Writing by David Lawder and Lisa Lisa Lambert; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Bernadette Baum and David Gregorio

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