By Sarah Gonzalez, Director of Communications and Digital Media
The Trump administration is considering raising the rate for pending tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent, senior administration officials said Wednesday.
“The Trump administration continues to urge China to stop its unfair practices, open its market, and engage in true market competition,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement. “We have been very clear about the specific changes China should undertake. Regrettably, instead of changing its harmful behavior, China has illegally retaliated against U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses.”
During a Senate subcommittee hearing in July, Lighthizer sparred with lawmakers over the administration’s trade tactics with China, while acknowledging that the dispute with the nation could “go on for years.” During that July hearing, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said it’s “not surprising to me to hear that the expectation that the efforts to change China’s behavior is a long-term issue, not a short-term issue. The problem is that in the meantime there’s a lot of pain to be encountered by not just farmers, but manufacturers and consumers.”
In his statement this week, Lighthizer said: “The increase in the possible rate of the additional duty is intended to provide the administration with additional options to encourage China to change its harmful policies and behavior and adopt policies that will lead to fairer markets and prosperity for all of our citizens.”
A final decision on the size and scope of additional U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports is not expected until September, following a public comment and public hearing process now underway.
In response, China warned it would retaliate if the United States increased the tariff rate to 25 percent. “If the U.S. side takes steps to further escalate the situation, we will definitely take countermeasures to resolutely safeguard our legitimate and legal rights and interests,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang on Wednesday.
China imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion worth of U.S. imports earlier in July, including soybeans, pork and other agricultural products, in retaliation for the $34 billion in Chinese imports targeted by U.S. tariffs the same day. The administration now is pursuing tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, and Trump has said he is prepared to reach more than $500 billion worth of Chinese imports that could be subjected to tariffs.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration announced on July 24 that it is committing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds to mitigate economic damage to farmers whose markets and crop prices have been damaged by the continuing trade disputes between the United States and China, the European Union, Canada and Mexico.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said more details about how the $12 billion will be allocated are expected around Labor Day, which is also when the programs are expected to take effect.