U.S. may raise tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25%

U.S. may raise tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25%

The United States may jack up the tariff rate on the next $200 billion in Chinese imports it plans to target as it pressures Beijing to reform its trade practices, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

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

US threats have escalated since, with US President Donald Trump saying he is ready to slap tariffs on all $500bn of Chinese imports.

China already has retaliated with tariffs, hitting USA farm products in particular.

It would risk further escalating tensions between the United States and China which are already mired in a trade war.

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.

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Officials however downplayed suggestions the move was meant to compensate for the recent decline in the value of the Chinese currency, which have threatened to take much of the sting out of Trump's tariffs by making the imports cheaper. The list, unveiled on July 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.

A public hearing on the second round of tariffs took place last week and the USTR has a 31 July deadline for post-hearing comments.

"If the USA takes measures to further escalate the situation, we will surely take countermeasures to uphold our legitimate rights and interests", said Geng Shuang, spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry, at a regular press conference.

"If the United States takes further measures that escalate the situation, China will definitely fight back", said Geng.

Investors fear an escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing could hit global economic growth, and prominent USA business groups, while tired of what they see as China's mercantilist trade practices, have condemned Trump's aggressive tariffs.

The US is considering 25% tariffs on $200bn (£152bn) of Chinese goods, much higher than the 10% it previously indicated it might impose, reports say. Beijing responded by imposing the same penalties on the same amount of USA imports.

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