The United States on Wednesday announced the process to levy 10 per cent tariffs on another USD 200 billion in Chinese export goods as soon as September. This has further escalated the trade war between the two largest economies of the world.
President Donald Trump vowed to hit back on a growing list of products after China retaliated in kind for the first round of 25 per cent tariffs on USD 34 billion worth of imports, that Washington imposed last week.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Washington did a thorough investigation to justify imposing tariffs on USD 50 billion worth of imports to compensate for the harm to the US economy caused by China's unfair trading practices, including theft or forced transfer of American technology.
China, however had rebuffed US complaints and denied any harm was done to US companies, and instead retaliated "without any international legal basis or justification," Lighthizer said.
"As a result of China's retaliation and failure to change its practices, the president has ordered USTR to begin the process of imposing tariffs of 10 per cent on an additional USD 200 billion of Chinese imports," he said in a statement.
USTR will hold hearings in late August on the list of targeted products and an administration official said it would take about two months to finalize, at which point Trump would decide whether to go ahead with the tariffs.
The goal is to bring the total amount of Chinese imports up to 40 per cent of the total imported from the Asian power, since the US products hit by Beijing's retaliation represent that share of exports, an official told reporters.
The trade confrontation between Washington and Beijing has been escalating for months, despite Trump's repeated statements that he has a good relationship with China's President Xi Jinping.
China accused the US of starting the largest trade war in economic history, after the first round of tariffs took effect last week, but Trump has continuously said that China has taken advantage of the US economy and he has vowed to hit nearly all the country's products with tariffs, as much as USD 450 billion.
The new list of goods to face 10 per cent punitive duties includes frozen meats, live and fresh fish and seafood, butter, onions, garlic and other vegetables, fruits, nuts, metals, and a massive list of chemicals, as well as tires, leather, fabrics, wood and papers.
The officials said they tried to target goods that would reduce the harm to US consumers.
They also said they remain open to working with China to try to resolve the dispute, but the response from Beijing so far has been unsatisfactory.