Washington: On the direction of US President Donald Trump, his administration is considering to increase the proposed tariff of 10 per cent on import of Chinese products to 25 per cent, a top trade negotiator has said. Such a move would more than double its proposed tariff on import of Chinese products worth USD 200 billion.
“The bottom line is the president is going to continue to hold China responsible for their unfair trade practices. This has gone on for long enough and he is going to do something about it,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at her daily news conference yesterday. On June 18, Trump had directed US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to identify USD 200 billion worth of Chinese goods for additional tariffs at a rate of 10 per cent, in response to China’s decision to cause further “harm” to US workers, farmers, and businesses by imposing retaliatory duties on US goods.
This process was initiated on July 10. “This week, the president has directed that I consider increasing the proposed level of the additional duty from 10 per cent to 25 per cent. The 25 per cent duty would be applied to the proposed list of products previously announced on July 10,” Lighthizer said. He said the Trump administration continues to urge China to stop its “unfair practices”, open its market, and engage in true market competition. “We have been very clear about the specific changes China should undertake. Regrettably, instead of changing its harmful behaviour, China has illegally retaliated against US workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses,” he alleged.
Lighthizer said the increase in the possible rate of the additional duty is intended at providing the Trump administration with additional options to encourage China to change its “harmful” policies and behaviour, and adopt policies that will lead to fairer markets and prosperity for all of Americans. “The United States has joined forces with like-minded partners around the world to address unfair trade practices such as forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft, and we remain ready to engage with China in negotiations that could resolve these and other problems detailed in our Section 301 report,” he said.
Sanders said the United States would like to see the playing field level. “The president, as both he and about 15 members of his administration have said repeatedly, we’d like to see the unfair trade practices stop,” she said. “But until that happens, the president is going to hold their feet to the fire. He is going to continue to put pressure on China and he is not going to sit back and allow American industries and American workers to be taken advantage of,” Sanders asserted.