Reportedly Trump met with his trade officials on Thursday, a decision reached to impose around $50 billion in tariffs on a range of Chinese goods – an announcement of the move expected on Friday or early next week.
According to an unnamed administration source, Trump’s “trade team has recommended tariffs. If there are not tariffs, it will be because the president has decided that he’s not ready to implement” them.
Interviewed by Fox News on Wednesday, Trump said he intends “very strongly clamping down on trade,” adding “you’ll see over the next couple of weeks.”
Trump’s Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro recommended toughness in dealing with China.
On Thursday, Bloomberg News said
Trump “is preparing to release a refined list of the first batch of Chinese products to be hit with tariffs on Friday that hones in on technologies where China wants to establish itself as a leader, according to people familiar with the matter. In April, the US revealed an initial list targeting about 1,300 products worth $50 billion in Chinese imports.”
If imposed, things will move closer to a trade war, harming both countries and global economic health if things go too far, lingering long enough unresolved.
Bloomberg said the Trump administration is nearing “completion of a second list of products ordered by Trump, worth $100 billion” – tariffs on them possibly to be imposed within or shortly after 60 days.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said
if Washington “rolls out unilateralist and protectionist measures that harm China’s interests, then we will respond immediately with necessary measures to safeguard our rights and interest.”
On June 1, Trump imposed 25% tariffs on steel imports, along with 10% tariffs on aluminum imports from EU countries, Canada and Mexico.
On Thursday, Brussels approved $3.3 billion in tariffs on US motorcycles, blue jeans, whiskey, cranberries, orange and cranberry juice, sweetcorn, peanut butter, and perhaps other products – to be imposed in late June or early July.
Mexico announced its intention to impose duties on US pork bellies, apples, grapes, cheeses, cold and/or flat rolled steel, among other products.
Canada announced tariffs on US steel, aluminum, whiskey and orange juice.
Economist Tom Orlik said
“(t)he US-China trade conflict appears to be entering a new and potentially damaging phase.”
On Friday, the state-run China Daily said
“it is high time that China and other major economies joined hands to better cope with the challenges created by the US’s aggressive pursuit of trade advantages.”
Economist Hu Yifan expects “a prolonged (US/China) trade battle” ahead, not easily resolved “through a few rounds of (bilateral) talks.”
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the CRG, Correspondent of Global Research based in Chicago.