President Donald Trump is weighing the idea of increasing from 10 percent to 25 percent the tariffs imposed on some $200 billion of Chinese products, mainly consumer goods, the Office of the US Trade Representative reported Wednesday.
“This week, the President has directed that I consider increasing the proposed level of the additional duty from 10 per cent to 25 percent,” Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement, Efe reported.
In the coming weeks, the USTR will analyze the president’s proposal and will open a public consultation period in late August so that US companies can offer their opinions on the measure.
Despite the fact that some US media have linked the proposal to hike tariffs to a sharp drop in the Chinese currency, senior US officials downplayed that idea in a telephone call with reporters.
Washington wants China to open its market more to US products and stop harming American workers, one official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The proposed tariff hike would – for the first time – affect a large number of consumer goods, including furniture, lamps, food and computers.
Before Trump’s proposal was made public, the Chinese government claimed on Wednesday that US “blackmail” and pressure on its exports are “not going to work.”
The trade talks between Washington and Beijing have bogged down in recent weeks, a period in which the two nations have imposed reciprocal tariff hikes on various products.
The first wave of US tariffs included a punishing 25 percent levy on Chinese imports valued at some $34 billion, a measure to which Beijing responded in like manner.
A few days later, the Trump government imposed more tariffs on Chinese imports, spurring the government of Xi Jinping to implement similar countermeasures.