WASHINGTON: The first round of President Donald Trump's 25 per cent punitive tariffs on China will hit US$50 billion in goods starting on Aug 23, the government announced on Tuesday (Aug 7).
Washington already imposed 25 per cent tariffs on US$34 billion in Chinese products on Jul 6. But it held off on a final US$16 billion as a result of concerns raised by US companies.
Although the move was expected, it cements the view that there appears to be no effort underway to defuse the dispute between the world's two largest economies that have continued to exchange threats.
China has already retaliated with duties of its own, and has pledged to match the United States dollar-for-dollar with new tariffs, including on the next US$16 billion.
Americans import far more from China than the other way around, however, meaning Beijing may at some point need to look for other means of retaliation.
Washington and Beijing are locked in battle over American accusations that China's export economy benefits from unfair policies and subsidies, and especially from the theft of American technological know-how.
Trump, who has boasted that trade wars are "easy to win," has threatened to ramp up the pressure and slap tariffs on virtually all of China's exports to the United States if Beijing does not back down and take steps to reduce the US$335 billion US trade deficit with that country.
The dispute has continued to escalate, as Trump last week threatened to jack up the tariff rate on the next US$200 billion in Chinese imports his administration plans to target to 25 per cent, from the planned 10 per cent.
Beijing has called on US officials to be "cool headed," but fired back warning it would impose duties on an additional US$60 billion in US goods, a threat the White House dismissed as "weak."
279 MORE PRODUCTS TARGETED
The office of US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said its "exhaustive" investigation showed "China's acts, policies and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation are unreasonable and discriminatory and burden US commerce."
USTR said there were 279 new goods to be targeted in the latest round of tariffs. Those include imports like motorcycles, tractors, railroad parts, electronic circuits, motors and farm equipment.
US industries and farmers have been caught in the crossfire, and the Trump administration announced US$12 billion in aid to help farmers hurt by Chinese duties on crops such as soybeans.
Trump's aggressive trade actions have drawn sharp criticism from business and from members of his own Republican party, as well as numerous warnings that an continuing to ramp up the trade war will harm the US and global economies.
In May, Chinese importers trying to beat Beijing's looming counter-tariffs led to a surge in US exports of crude oil and soybeans, temporarily driving down the trade deficit and helping boost GDP growth in the April-June period to 4.1 per cent.
The growth rate was the strongest in nearly four years, and Trump said it was further proof his economic policies were working.