The U.S.is considering increasing tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Wednesday.
A bit of quick maths reveals that works out to US$50 billion (AU$67 billion) in fees.
Trump's trade adviser Robert Lighthizer said the U.S. president had taken the decision to up the levy from an original 10 per cent because China had refused to meet United States demands and had responded to an earlier round of tariffs with retaliatory measures, when the USA imposed tariffs on $50bn of its goods.
"The Trump Administration continues to urge China to stop its unfair practices, open its market and engage in true market competition", Lighthizer said Wednesday, adding that, "Regrettably, instead of changing its harmful behavior, China has illegally retaliated against US workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses".
There have been no formal talks between Washington and Beijing for weeks over Trump's demands that China make fundamental changes to its policies on intellectual property protection, technology transfers and subsidies for high technology industries.
China plans tariffs on $60bn of imports to counter Trump
The ministry said timing of the implementation of the new tariffs on U.S. goods would depend on the actions of the US. China's biggest US imports by value in 2017 were aircraft and related equipment, soybeans and autos.
Washington wants China to open its market more to United States products and stop harming American workers, one official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
China and the USA have raised tariffs on billions of dollars of each other's goods over complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.
China on Friday announced a $60 billion list of USA goods including coffee, honey and industrial chemicals for retaliation if Washington goes ahead with its latest tariff threat. In a survey of global fund managers in July by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, 60% of respondents said that a trade war is the biggest threat to financial markets.
If the United States chooses to escalate rapidly while China elects to ride out the attack and wait for the costs to rebound on the U.S. and global economies, the damage to both as well as third countries could be extensive. "Regrettably, instead of changing its harmful behaviour, China has illegally retaliated against USA workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses".
Because of the proposed increased rate, USTR will extend the comment period to September 5.
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"Pressure and blackmail from the US won't work", Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a briefing in Beijing, the New York Times reported. A few days later, the Trump government imposed more tariffs on Chinese imports, spurring the government of Xi Jinping to implement similar countermeasures.
Geng said at a news conference, "we advise the United States to be level-headed and avoid simply acting on impulse".
The US administration's trade spat with China looks set to escalate significantly after President Donald Trump is reported to be considering more than doubling the proposed new tariffs on goods imported from China.
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. It would also give Congress more oversight of the process. This would put pressure to hike rates in the U.S., in particular.
It's the same story for liquefied natural gas (LNG), with only one USA cargo booked for arrival in August, and it departed the Gulf of Mexico on July 1, before much of the current escalation in the trade dispute.
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The move signalled displeasure among Mr Trump's own party over his protectionist actions, but chances of it becoming law were slim as Congress would likely need to override a presidential veto by Mr Trump.