US ushes to ready new China tariffs as companies fret damage

Shanghai Container Port/Bloomberg

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President Donald Trump’s announcement last week on adding a 10 per cent tariff as of 1 September to virtually every Chinese import that is not yet subject to punitive duties took US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer by surprise.

Thursday 08, August 2019

The Trump administration is rushing to finalise a list of $300 billion in Chinese imports it plans to hit with tariffs in a few weeks’ time, as US companies make a last-ditch appeal to be spared from the latest round of duties, reported Bloomberg.

Lighthizer and his staff are now under pressure to revise an initial list targeting more than 3,800 Chinese product lines based on issues raised during a public comment period and hearings.

The USTR is planning to publish the final list this week or early next. In that meantime, companies are making a last-ditch attempt at convincing the Trump administration not to impose duties or to drop items they import from the tariff list.

Lighthizer is said to have argued against the new tariffs in a meeting shortly before the president announced the new duties, urging patience to allow more time for a tariff increase in June to 25 per cent from 10 per cent on an earlier batch of $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to inflict pain on the Chinese economy.

Still, companies are complaining about the lack of certainty for their business decisions and say a couple weeks’ notice isn’t enough time.

The proposed list of goods, which USTR published in mid-May, includes consumer items like smart-phones, laptops as well as clothes and toys.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow this week signalled the tariffs could be called off before 1 September if Beijing shows goodwill on buying American agriculture goods and getting back to the negotiating table.

“The president and our team are planning for a Chinese visit in September, movement toward a good deal would be very positive and might change the tariff situation but then again, it might not,” Kudlow said.

TAGS : US-China Trade tension, tariffs , US Trade Representative, Chinese product, US President Donald Trump, President Xi Jinping

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