U.S. considers higher tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports

US President Donald Trump gestures next to China's President Xi Jinping during a business leaders event at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 9 November 2017

White House escalates China trade dispute to secure early breakthrough: John Kemp

Aerial view of containers at a loading terminal in the port of Hamburg, Germany August 1, 2018.

President Donald Trump's administration said on July 10 it would seek to impose the 10-per cent tariffs on thousands of Chinese imports. "China's position is very firm and clear and has not changed".

At the same time, representatives of US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He are having private conversations as they look for ways to reengage in negotiations, according to people who spoke about the deliberations on condition of anonymity.

In early July, the United States government imposed 25 per cent tariffs on an initial US$34 billion of Chinese imports.

"I need to stress that dialogues must be conducted on the basis of mutual respect and equality", he said.

White House officials had hoped Trump's latest threat would frighten Chinese officials into negotiations, where Trump aims to secure more favorable terms for US manufacturers in one of the world's largest marketplaces.

The U.S. has imposed tariffs targeting aerospace, robotics and other forms of technology, while China retaliated with tariffs on agricultural products, seafood and cars, among other things.

From left, China's President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands on November 9, 2017, during a meeting outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Lighthizer noted that if tariffs are increased to 25 percent, they would be applied to the proposed list of products that were announced on July 10.

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Trump has ultimately threatened tariffs on over US$500 billion in Chinese goods, covering virtually all United States imports from China.

The list, unveiled on Jul 10, hits American consumers harder than previous rounds, with targeted goods ranging from Chinese tilapia fish and dog food to furniture, lighting products, printed circuit boards and building materials.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang called Washington's actions "blackmail" and urged the United States "to return to rationality and not act on impulse".

Trump set his sights on China during the 2016 presidential campaign and has followed through during his presidency with a protectionist strategy that he says is aimed at strengthening US companies and boosting jobs at home.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Thursday that China will advise the United States to change its attitude, stop making false accusations, and return to the land of reason.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said his agency is seeking comments from industry about the proposed tariffs, with a deadline of September 5. The plan to more than double the tariff rate was first reported by Bloomberg News.

The proposal would require a more robust justification from the Department of Defense for "Section 232" tariffs such as those imposed on steel and aluminum imports and those now under consideration for autos.

But Beijing appears, instead, to be digging in with more retaliatory measures that experts believe could hurt the economies of both countries.

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