The Trump administration is readying tariffs on another 200 billion dollars (£150 billion) in Chinese imports, ranging from burglar alarms to mackerel, escalating a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.
The Office of the US Trade Representative proposed 10% tariffs Tuesday on a list of 6,031 Chinese product lines.
The office will accept public comments and hold hearings on the plan between August 20-23 before reaching a decision after August 31, according to a senior administration official.
Last Friday, the US imposed 25%t tariffs on 34 billion dollars (£25 billion) in Chinese products, and Beijing responded by hitting the same amount of US imports.
The administration said the new levies are a response to China’s decision to retaliate against the first round of US tariffs.
China’s government criticised the latest tariff hike threat as “totally unacceptable” and vowed to retaliate in their escalating trade war.
A Commerce Ministry statement said: “It is totally unacceptable for American side to publish a tariff list in a way that is accelerating and escalating.”
It said “the Chinese government will be forced to impose necessary countermeasures” to protect its “core interests”.
President Donald Trump has threatened to tax as much as 550 billion dollars (£414 billion) in Chinese products – an amount that exceeds America’s total imports from China last year.
The United States complains that China uses predatory practices in a push to challenge American technological dominance. Chinese tactics, the administration says, include outright cybertheft and forcing US companies to hand over technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market.
The initial US tariff list focused on Chinese industrial products in an attempt to limit the impact on American consumers. By expanding the list, the administration is beginning to hit products that US households buy, including such things as electric lamps and fish sticks.
“Tariffs on 200 billion dollars in Chinese products amounts to another multibillion-dollar tax on American businesses and families,” said Scott Lincicome, a trade lawyer and senior policy analyst for the group Republicans Fighting Tariffs.
“Given China’s likelihood of retaliation, it’s also billions worth of new tariffs on American exporters.”
Members of Congress are increasingly questioning Trump’s aggressive trade policies, warning that tariffs on imports raise prices for consumers and expose U.S. farmers and manufacturers to retaliation abroad.
“Tonight’s announcement appears reckless and is not a targeted approach,” Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch said in a statement.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to China’s mercantilist trade practices, but this action falls short of a strategy that will give the administration negotiating leverage with China while maintaining the long-term health and prosperity of the American economy.”