Trump could raise tariffs further on Chinese goods

The Trump administration had initially announced a 10 percent tariff

But Trump's tariffs have drawn criticism at home in the United States for driving up costs for consumers and companies that rely on Chinese imports.

- China's foreign minister said Thursday that US threats to hike tariffs run against the trend toward globalization and will hurt USA businesses and consumers.

Administration officials at the time said the tariff fight was aimed at forcing China to stop stealing American intellectual property and to abandon policies that effectively force US companies to surrender their trade secrets in return for access to the Chinese market.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross downplayed the impact of the tariffs on the American economy.

The initial set of tariffs and reprisals led to talks between Washington and Beijing, and Trump and his administration touted a deal that they said would lead to hundreds of billions of dollars worth of additional USA exports to China.

By comparison, the United States imported more than $500 billion in Chinese goods in 2016.

The officials told reporters on a background call that Trump had directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to consider the higher tariff rate as part efforts to ensure that it has "the right tools in place in order to encourage China to change its actions".

More news: President Trump holds campaign rally in Tampa, Florida

Wednesday's move means when the latest tariffs have been introduced, the White House will have imposed levies on more than $250 billion of Chinese exports to the United States, although it has threatened to target the full $500 billion of goods that China exports to America each year.

Logic suggests that if the trade dispute does continue to drag on China's economic performance, eventually steel will join copper in trending lower. "The U.S. unilaterally exerting pressure on China will get the opposite of what it wants", he said.

Officials said they remained in regular contact with their Chinese counterparts but could announce no new meeting. The government will seek public comment on the higher tariffs.

But David MacNaughton, Canada's ambassador in Washington, told the AP it made sense for the USA and Mexico to negotiate first: "There are a couple of lingering issues between the USA and Mexico" that need to be settled "before we can move on", he said.

In Beijing, a foreign ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, said Beijing was open to dialogue but gave no indication about the status of possible negotiations.

The proposed higher tariff "is meant 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", Lighthizer said Wednesday. The trade gap narrowed in April and May as farmers front-loaded soybean exports to China before Beijing's retaliatory tariffs came into effect in early July.

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