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Trump officials consider more than doubling tariffs on Chinese goods

In this July 13, 2018, photo, a child selects shoes as Chinese made children shoes carrying a Chines
Chinese-made children’s shoes are on display at a shop in Beijing.
(Andy Wong / Associated Press)
The Washington Post

President Trump is considering a plan to impose a 25% tariff on $200 billion in Chinese imports, more than double what he had initially proposed, a person briefed on the matter said.

The deliberations could be a sign that Trump is looking to intensify pressure in the trade standoff with Beijing even if it could significantly drive up costs on a wide range of products for American consumers.

A final decision has not been made, and a number of Trump’s threats toward China have been designed more to bring Chinese President Xi Jinping to the negotiating table than to fundamentally change U.S. economic policy, said the person, who insisted on anonymity to discuss White House deliberations.

If Trump follows through with the plan, it could significantly raise prices on televisions, clothing, bedsheets, air conditioners and other consumer products.

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Trump in June instructed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to craft a plan to impose a 10% tariff on $200 billion in Chinese imports, or roughly 40% of the goods that China sends to the U.S. each year.

It was seen at the time as a dramatic escalation of Trump’s trade battle with Xi, as Chinese leaders had refused to back down after numerous threats by the Trump administration. China’s Ministry of Commerce called the move “blackmail.”

It was not immediately clear Tuesday why Trump is now looking at raising the proposed tariffs to 25%, but White House officials say trade talks with China have largely stalled.

Trump has launched an aggressive trade agenda this year, threatening several countries with high tariffs if they don’t purchase more U.S. products or allow more U.S. investment in their countries.

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In recent weeks, White House officials have claimed progress in talks with the European Union and Mexico, while talks with Canada and China have broken down. Trump has shown a willingness to try to isolate countries including Canada and China that he believes aren’t quickly offering the types of concessions he has demanded.

U.S. business groups have expressed angst about Trump’s approach, warning it could drive up costs for companies and consumers. But Trump has urged patience, promising his approach will work if lawmakers and business leaders fall in line and give him more time to negotiate.


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