Trump admin. steps up pressure on China with threat of more tariffs

FAN Editor

Washington — President Trump has escalated U.S. trade tensions with China, threatening to again raise tariffs — this time on essentially all remaining Chinese imports, CBS News’ Nikole Killion reports from the White House. 

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Friday Mr. Trump “ordered us to begin the process of raising tariffs on essentially all remaining imports from China, which are valued at $300 billion.”  

Earlier Friday, the U.S. increased tariffs on approximately $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent. The $300 billion in imports Lighthizer mentioned Friday hadn’t yet been hit in a yearlong dispute over China’s push to challenge American technological dominance, allegedly by stealing technology and forcing U.S. companies to hand over trade secrets. 

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Lighthizer’s office will have to get public comment before it can go ahead with the new tariffs.

On Friday, a Chinese delegation left meetings with U.S. officials in Washington without a deal. 

However, Mr. Trump said the trade talks, which last just two hours on Friday, were “candid” and “constructive,” and insisted his relationship with China’s President Xi Jinping is strong. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said trade talks have not broken down and that the failure to reach an agreement in the tariffs war was “just a small setback.” 

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and China’s President Xi Jinping leave a business leaders event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2017.  Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV on Saturday showed Liu telling reporters he was cautiously optimistic. Liu also said the two sides were disagreeing over the amount of goods China would pledge to purchase from the U.S. to help reduce the American trade deficit.

Mr. Trump said in a tweet this week tariffs “will bring in FAR MORE wealth to our Country than even a phenomenal deal of the traditional kind.” However, U.S. importers and companies are likely to bear the cost of the tariffs when goods arrive from China. That would mean higher prices for American consumers, which could eventually weaken the Chinese economy since their goods become more expensive.

“You’re gonna see U.S. companies and Chinese companies probably being both hurt equally by the tariffs,” said Chad Brown, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “So there’s going to be symmetric pain being felt on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.”

The trade war between the world’s two biggest economies is the bitterest since the 1930s. 

“The United States and China are on a collision course,” the Asia Society concluded in an assessment of the two countries’ relations in February. “The foundations of goodwill that took decades to build are rapidly breaking down.”

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