Trump proposes raising tariffs to 25% on $200 billion of 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

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

The Trump administration plans to propose slapping a 25-percent tariff on $200 billion of imported Chinese goods after initially setting them at 10 percent, in a bid to pressure Beijing into making trade concessions, a source familiar with the plan said on Tuesday. Moving forward with tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports would mean higher prices for a long list of consumer goods, acting as a drag on household income.

The Donald Trump administration claims the tariffs are necessary to protect national security and USA businesses' intellectual property, and to reduce the country's trade deficit with China.

The US dollar has strengthened by 5 per cent against China's yuan since the beginning of the year and has risen by around 3 per cent on a trade-weighted basis against the currencies of other major USA trading partners. "It will slow the economy".

In contrast, the U.S. economy expanded at an annualised rate of 4.1 per cent in the second quarter, the fastest for nearly four years, according to advance estimates.

The asymmetric economic and financial performance of the United States and China has convinced the White House it has "escalation dominance" and should press home its advantage. They expect protectionist policies on trade - which show no signs of abating - to tap the brakes.

Trump has accused China of stealing US intellectual property, manipulating its own currency and taking other steps that give its firms an unfair competitive advantage over USA companies.

The U.S. government reported Friday that the gap between how much the United States imports from China and how much it exports reached a record level in the first six months of 2018. "The cost increases will be passed on to customers, so it will affect most Americans pocketbooks".

Washington imposed additional 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods July 6 in response to complaints Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology. That particular set of tariffs has not yet taken effect. 25% of tariffs can add to inflation more than 1.2 percentage points and seriously harm the established business practice in the USA.

Stock markets edged up globally on Tuesday on a report that the United States and China were seeking to resume talks to defuse the budding trade war.

If the White House can secure an early resumption of negotiations, or an early settlement, even a partial one, it will feature heavily in the political campaign ahead of congressional elections as a successful example of the president's tough negotiating style.

"The money comes after farmers, especially soybean growers, have felt the brunt of retaliatory tariffs placed on agriculture by China and other nations that the Trump administration has penalized with tariffs on imports", NPR's Brian Naylor reported.

The $200 billion list of goods targeted for tariffs - which also include Chinese tilapia fish, printed circuit boards and lighting products - would have a bigger impact on consumers than previous rounds of tariffs. Democrats and Republicans have complained that China's ability to sell goods in the United States at a lower cost than US companies has put thousands of American firms out of business, costing manufacturing jobs and hurting the USA economy.

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