President Trump has proposed that U.S. trade officials raise tariffs on Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent over a perceived failure to address concerns regarding unfair trading practices, officials said.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer released a statement On Wednesday announcing that Trump had asked him to consider increasing tariffs from the initial 10 percent proposal to 25 percent on about $200 billion in imports as “China continues to double down on unfair practices.”
“On June 18, the president directed me to identify $200 billion worth of Chinese goods for additional tariffs at a rate of 10 percent, in response to China’s decision to cause further harm to U.S. workers, farmers, and businesses by imposing retaliatory duties on U.S. goods,” Lighthizer said. “This week, the president has directed that I consider increasing the proposed level of the additional duty from 10 percent to 25 percent.”
While the tariffs would not be imposed until after a period of public comment ends on Sept. 5, a senior administration official said that Trump “remains open to conversations,” and that the administration is “in contact with our Chinese counterparts.”
China has been accused of continuing to engage in unfair trading practices, particularly in tech, and, according to one official, its government has missed “many opportunities” to address specific concerns presented by the U.S.
“The Trump administration continues to urge China to stop its unfair practices, open its market, and engage in true market competition,” Lightizer’s statement read. “We have been very clear about the specific changes China should undertake. Regrettably, instead of changing its harmful behavior, China has illegally retaliated against U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses.”
The administration had previously imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods on July 6 over similar concerns that Beijing was stealing or pressuring companies to hand over technology. China responded by implementing its own penalties on U.S. goods.
Chinese officials responded early Wednesday to threats of higher tariffs by saying they would retaliate again.
"If the United States takes further measures that escalate the situation, China will definitely fight back," said Geng Shuang a foreign ministry spokesman. “We are determined to safeguard our legitimate and lawful rights and interests.”
One senior administration official said that Washington is ready to engage in talks with Beijing, but that “Trump is willing to take tough action in a way previous administrations have not in order to further discussions.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.