Entirety of US imports now face prospect of higher duties
The U.S. is soon expected to decide whether to enact its third round of additional tariffs on China, which would impact $200 billion worth of products including furniture and appliances.
Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, the president said the third round of tariffs worth $200 billion “could take place very soon depending on what happens with [China]. To a certain extent it’s going to be up to China.”
But Trump said there was more to come. “I hate to say this, but behind that is another $267 billion ready to go on short notice if I want. That changes the equation.”
If all four rounds of tariffs were implemented, the combined total would hit $517 billion of imports — roughly equivalent to all of U.S. imports from China and escalating the trade war to an unprecedented level. The U.S. imported $506 billion worth of goods from China in 2017. The added duties would mean higher prices for American consumers.
In the first two rounds of tariffs, the U.S. has imposed duties on a total of $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. Both were swiftly met with an equal retaliation by Beijing.
Earlier on Friday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Trump will not make any decisions on the $200 billion in tariffs until officials have time to evaluate public comments on them. The U.S. Trade Representative’s office received nearly 6,000 comments during the public comment period on the proposed levies, which ended Thursday night.
Kudlow declined to say whether any decisions would be made on Friday.
At a rally in Montana on Thursday, Trump extended his criticism of Beijing. “Honestly, we have to be treated fairly. Last year we had a trade deficit of anywhere from $375 billion,” he said, adding that the situation was “unacceptable.”
The proposed list of tariffs, published in July and spanning about 6,000 items, drew opposition from a wide range of industries, from manufacturers of apparel bags and bicycles to fruit farmers. They argued that additional duties will increase costs and weigh down sales.
For example, iRobot — the company behind the Roomba robot vacuums — pushed against tariffs on vacuum cleaners from China. While the company admitted Chinese copycats were hurting its business, it also produces its own products in the country.
Most of the feedback was negative. Some of the comments had identical language, suggesting they were part of an organized effort against the tariffs.
The U.S. Trade Representative’s office will now finalize the list for Trump’s approval. It usually takes at least three weeks after the end of public comment for new tariffs to take effect, but Trump is pushing to speed up the process. He has also ordered to increase the additional duty to 25% from the initially proposed 10%.
Some in the administration want to introduce the new tariffs in stages, instead of hitting all $200 billion in imports at once.
China has threatened to retaliate on another $60 billion of American products including liquefied natural gas should Washington go through with the third round of tariffs. This would mean a total of $130 billion — over 80% of Chinese imports from the U.S. — will carry higher duties.