The Trump administration may be about to slap tariffs of up to 25 per cent on an additional USD 200 billion in Chinese goods, escalating a confrontation between the world’s two biggest economies and likely squeezing US companies that import everything from handbags to bicycle tires. The administration could decide to begin taxing the imports — equal to nearly 40 per cent of all the goods China sold the United States last year — after a public comment period ends Thursday.
The administration has already imposed tariffs on USD 50 billion in Chinese products, and Beijing has punched back with tariffs on USD 50 billion in American goods. These US goods include soybeans and beef — a direct shot at supporters of President Donald Trump in the US farm belt.
China plans to tax an additional USD 60 billion in US products if the Trump administration expands its hit list by USD 200 billion. Trump initiated the trade war to punish Beijing for what it says are China’s predatory tactics to try to supplant U.S. technological supremacy. Those tactics, the Office of the US Trade Representative has alleged, include stealing trade secrets through computer hacking and forcing US companies to hand over technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market.
In the early rounds of the hostilities, the administration targeted Chinese industrial imports to try to spare American consumers from higher import costs. But if Trump adds the USD 200 billion in Chinese products to the target list, American consumers would likely feel the pinch directly.
And China has vowed to hit USD 60 billion in US products in retaliation. Many American companies that rely on targeted Chinese imports are bracing for the next round of tariffs to hit, with some wondering whether they can absorb the higher costs or instead will need to pass them along to their customers — or find alternatives suppliers outside China.