Trump considers 25 percent tariff on $200B of Chinese goods

The Trump administration could hit $200 billion worth of already-targeted Chinese goods with a 25 percent tariff, a significantly higher level than the 10 percent proposed initially, U.S. trade officials said Wednesday.

"The president has directed that [U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer] consider increasing the proposed level of the additional duty on those imports from 10 percent to 25 percent,” a senior U.S. administration official said during a call with reporters.

The administration officials, who briefed reporters on the condition that they not be identified, emphasized that no final decision on increasing the duty has been made and declined to speculate on how likely it was that Lighthizer would recommend the higher duty.

They stressed, however, that it was important that the administration continually re-evaluate its option to make sure that they are taking the most effective course that they can.

The move is latest action in Continue reading “Trump considers 25 percent tariff on $200B of Chinese goods”

‘It’s not going to be a great meeting’: Trump to welcome European Commission head

President Donald Trump is not known for backing down, but the Europeans are coming to Washington anyway to see if they can convince him to rein in his trade policies.

Less than two weeks after calling the European Union a “foe,” Trump will meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the White House on Wednesday. The sit-down comes as the 28-country bloc is fuming about the administration’s decision to slap hefty tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, and is hoping to dissuade the president from imposing new tariffs on imported cars.

Juncker has been one of Europe’s most vocal critics of Trump’s trade policies. In March, he called the president’s aluminum and steel tariffs “stupid.” Warning that Europe would retaliate with tariffs on U.S. products, he added, “We can also do stupid.”

Former officials expect Wednesday’s White House meeting to be tense.

“The negotiating view Continue reading “‘It’s not going to be a great meeting’: Trump to welcome European Commission head”

Opposition to Trump’s auto tariff plan grows

Opposition is mounting to President Donald Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on imported automobiles and parts — a reality that will be underscored during a daylong Commerce Department hearing Thursday on whether the imports threaten U.S. national security.

All but one of 45 scheduled witnesses are expected to testify against the tariffs, which are almost uniformly opposed by the U.S. automotive industry. Trump wants to start taxing imports of foreign cars prior to the midterm elections this fall, seeing it as a good political play in Rust Belt states like Michigan and Ohio. But the move has drawn sharp opposition from Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress, and is even said to be controversial among Trump’s own advisers.

The duties, if the administration follows through with them, would be levied under the same rarely used trade law through which the president imposed tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum Continue reading “Opposition to Trump’s auto tariff plan grows”

Mnuchin challenges EU, China to talk trade with the U.S.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday urged both the European Union and China to engage in talks with the United States to reduce trade barriers.

“The president went to the G-7,” Mnuchin said during a briefing for reporters. “For anyone who doesn’t think the president is a free-trader, the president said, ‘Let’s have a free trade agreement. No tariffs. No tariff barriers.’ Okay? Europe wants to have free trade. Let’s see them respond, OK, with a genuine offer.”

Trump has inflamed trade relations with Europe by imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to protect U.S. national security, and is threatening to do the same on auto imports. But Mnunchin said he believed those actions were key to the German auto industry proposing talks with the U.S. to eliminate auto and other trade barriers — though formal talks would have to be initiated by Continue reading “Mnuchin challenges EU, China to talk trade with the U.S.”

Trump changes direction on China investment restrictions

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin appears to have won the battle against White House hard-liners who were pushing for President Donald Trump to target only Beijing with investment restrictions, as the president announced Tuesday that he’ll also target other countries.

"It’s not just Chinese [investment]," Trump told reporters at the White House.

The president‘s apparent change in strategy comes even after Treasury officials had already teed up an executive order for Trump to sign Friday that outlines new investment restrictions focused on China‘s efforts to obtain sensitive U.S. technology by acquiring or merging with U.S. firms.

That order detailed that companies that have at least 25 percent Chinese ownership would be automatically banned from investments involving U.S. companies. It would also restrict investments from companies with an even lower threshold of Chinese ownership, between 10 percent and 25 percent, if the transaction involved gaining a board seat on Continue reading “Trump changes direction on China investment restrictions”

How China could hit the U.S. where it hurts

China knows how to fight a trade war — and it has nearly 1.4 billion people to help in the effort.

When Beijing was upset over South Korea’s decision last year to deploy a U.S. missile system, it ratcheted up pressure using a tool ripped from the playbook of Western consumer activists: consumer boycotts.

A series of government-encouraged boycotts sent sales of South Korean-made Hyundais in China plummeting by more than half, decreased Chinese tourist traffic by more than 60 percent and temporarily shut down 55 supermarkets in China run by the large Korean retailer Lotte.

As the Trump administration escalates its own trade dispute with China, the U.S. should expect much the same. Whether it’s encouraging Chinese consumers to give up their Big Macs, or making it harder for U.S. companies to open bank accounts, Beijing could rely on a number of tactics that have Continue reading “How China could hit the U.S. where it hurts”

Trump orders tariffs on $200B more Chinese goods

President Donald Trump on Monday raised the stakes in a growing trade dispute with China, ordering trade officials to draw up a list of $200 billion worth of Chinese goods that would be hit with an additional 10 percent tariff, after Beijing retaliated in kind to Trump’s decision to hit an initial $50 billion worth of Chinese goods with a 25 percent tariff last week.

"This latest action by China clearly indicates its determination to keep the United States at a permanent and unfair disadvantage, which is reflected in our massive $376 billion trade imbalance in goods," Trump said in a statement. "This is unacceptable. Further action must be taken to encourage China to change its unfair practices, open its market to United States goods, and accept a more balanced trade relationship with the United States."

Trump also promised to keep upping the ante if China retaliates to his Continue reading “Trump orders tariffs on $200B more Chinese goods”

Trump set to announce tariffs on $50B worth of Chinese goods

President Donald Trump is expected to announce Friday that he has decided to impose tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods in response to U.S. concerns about theft of intellectual property and forced technology transfers, a source briefed on the matter said.

A White House spokeswoman confirmed that Trump has made a decision about the tariffs, but declined to say what the decision is. “I’m not going to get out ahead of the announcement,” she said.

But on May 29, the White House said it would announce by June 15 a list of Chinese imported goods that will be slapped with 25 percent tariffs.

The tariffs will not go into effect immediately, but Trump has said that he wants them to be imposed by the end of the month, if not sooner, an administration official said Thursday.

The authorizing statute for the tariffs allows the Office of the Continue reading “Trump set to announce tariffs on $50B worth of Chinese goods”

Birth control and beer kegs: How Trump’s tariffs will hit Middle America

Birth control pills, lawnmowers and flat-panel televisions are among a long list of goods that could get more expensive after President Donald Trump slaps 25 percent tariffs on a list of Chinese imports.

The final list of items facing penalties is due out Friday, and a wide range of U.S. consumer favorites is likely to be on it, despite a scramble by many affected businesses to get their items removed – or to get competitors’ products on.

The intense activity was on display during three days of hearings in late May, when the Trump administration heard testimony from more 100 witnesses. Many predicted higher prices and shortages of everything from pharmaceuticals to snow blowers.

Prasad Pinnamaraju, chief operating officer of Novast Laboratories, a U.S. subsidiary of Chinese pharmaceutical company Novast Holdings, said women could have trouble getting birth control pills, which were on a preliminary target list Trump Continue reading “Birth control and beer kegs: How Trump’s tariffs will hit Middle America”

Senate will try to reverse ZTE deal via a must-pass defense bill

Senate leaders agreed Monday to include language in the annual defense spending bill that would reverse the Trump administration’s decision to save Chinese telecommunications company ZTE after it was caught violating the terms of a 2017 penalty agreement by making illegal sales to Iran and North Korea.

The move is a rebuke to President Donald Trump on the eve on his summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, after Trump had pledged to China’s leader that he would try to save the state-controlled company from a crippling sanction. The language will be part of an amendment in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, a $716 billion defense policy bill, H.R. 5515 (115).

“By including this provision to undo the ZTE deal in the defense bill, the Senate is saying loudly and in a bipartisan fashion that the president is dead wrong to back off on ZTE," Senate Continue reading “Senate will try to reverse ZTE deal via a must-pass defense bill”

Kudlow: Trump won’t quit NAFTA, but new deal uncertain

President Donald Trump will not withdraw from NAFTA, but it’s unclear whether the United States can reach a new deal with Canada and Mexico, White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Sunday.

"We won’t withdraw from NAFTA. We are heavy into negotiations," Kudlow said in an interview on CBS’s "Face the Nation," where he fumed over criticism that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made Saturday of Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum products.

Kudlow characterized Trudeau’s comments, made at a closing G-7 press conference, as a "betrayal" of the good will that Trump and other leaders had shown at the international meeting in Charlevoix, Quebec.

Kudlow repeated the possibility that current NAFTA agreement could be divided into separate bilateral pacts with Canada and Mexico, but then added a new deal might not be possible at all.

“I don’t know [if negotiators will reach a deal], Continue reading “Kudlow: Trump won’t quit NAFTA, but new deal uncertain”

Navarro: Trump has given ZTE one last chance.

The Trump administration will shut down Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE if it is caught violating U.S. laws again, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said on Sunday, responding to criticism on Capitol Hill about a new Commerce Department deal to put the company back in business.

"It’s going to be three strikes, you’re out on ZTE," Navarro said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday. "If they do one more additional thing, they will be shut down."

ZTE originally was fined $1.3 billion in 2017 for making sales to Iran and North Korea in violation of U.S. sanctions. However, after it was caught violating terms of its 2017 penalty agreement, including by paying bonuses to some employees involved in the illegal activities, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in April banned ZTE from doing business with American firms for seven years, effectively shutting it down.

That prompted Chinese Continue reading “Navarro: Trump has given ZTE one last chance.”

Latest China trade talks indicate impasse

High-level trade talks with China over the weekend produced no immediate breakthroughs, the White House indicated Monday in a bland statement that made no reference to Beijing’s threat to halt the negotiations if the United States proceeds to impose tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.

"The meetings focused on reducing the United States’ trade deficit by facilitating the supply of agricultural and energy products to meet China’s growing consumption needs, which will help support growth and employment in the United States," the White House said.

"The United States officials conveyed President Donald J. Trump’s clear goal for achieving a fair trading relationship with China,“ the statement said.

The last line of the statement hinted of next steps to come. “The delegations will now report back to receive guidance on the path forward," the statement continued.

Beijing was first out of the gate with a statement on Sunday after Continue reading “Latest China trade talks indicate impasse”

Trump’s global trade war

President Donald Trump’s move to slap penalties on imports from U.S. allies and China is moving the country to the brink of a global trade war as the White House tries to wrest concessions from trading partners that are threatening to retaliate.

The Trump administration ratcheted up the brinkmanship Thursday by announcing new duties on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico — after failing to reach deals with them to address national security concerns related to the imports.

The decision, which comes just days after Trump broke a cease-fire in an escalating trade dispute with China, is certain to inflame relations and invite retaliation. Mexico quickly announced it would impose penalties on a list of U.S. goods. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also said the EU would respond with penalties of its own on U.S. exports.

"Today is a bad day for Continue reading “Trump’s global trade war”

Trump’s trade actions undermine Ross’ big China trip

Even if Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross still goes to China this weekend as planned, his boss, President Donald Trump, keeps undermining his negotiations to defuse the trade war with Beijing.

Trump on Tuesday announced plans to slap penalties on $50 billion in Chinese imports, and a Chinese government spokeswoman quickly complained that Trump was doing an “about face” and was in danger of “squandering” an opportunity, according to the South China Morning Post.

Ross, who is in Paris for European trade talks, was still intent on traveling to Beijing as of Wednesday, according to a source familiar with his plans. But even as preparations continue, Trump’s latest moves are making it unclear what Ross can accomplish.

“If you’re trying to send signals, you’ve completely muddied this and nobody knows what signal you’re sending,” said Phil Levy, a former Treasury Department official now at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Ross Continue reading “Trump’s trade actions undermine Ross’ big China trip”

Trump administration presents Capitol Hill with deal to rescue Chinese firm ZTE

The Trump administration has reached a deal that will put Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE back in business by rolling back severe sanctions put in place last month by the Commerce Department, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The move to settle with the Chinese company removes a major barrier to U.S.-China trade talks as Beijing opposed a penalty that would have shuttered the firm by prohibiting U.S. suppliers from doing business with ZTE for seven years.

It also comes a week before Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is scheduled to travel to Beijing to continue efforts to negotiate a trade truce between the two countries.

Commerce notified officials on Capitol Hill of a deal, which will have ZTE pay a bigger fine, hire American compliance officers and replace the firm’s current management team, the source said.

Once those terms are met, the U.S. will lift Continue reading “Trump administration presents Capitol Hill with deal to rescue Chinese firm ZTE”

Trump takes aim at the family car with new tariff threat

Americans could see a 25 percent spike in the price tag on their family cars if President Donald Trump goes through with a threat to slap tariffs on imported automobiles, trucks and parts, sparking a wave of outrage from Trump’s own political allies.

Acting on instructions from Trump, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross late Wednesday launched an investigation into whether automotive imports pose a national security threat, a move that could lead to penalties boosting the cost of a $20,000 car by $5,000. With a price shock like that, the real threat would be to Americans’ financial security, business and GOP leaders said.

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who worked closely with Trump to pass last year’s tax reform bill, called the new investigation “deeply misguided.”

“Taxing cars, trucks and auto parts coming into the country would directly hit American families who need a dependable vehicle, whether they choose Continue reading “Trump takes aim at the family car with new tariff threat”

Ross: U.S. wants American compliance officers at ZTE

The United States is pressuring Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE to create a compliance unit staffed with American employees in exchange for any relief from a business ban, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday.

In an interview on CNBC, Ross said it was unclear if the Chinese would accept that condition, Reuters reported. But he said the company was not "in strong negotiating position" with sanctions already in effect.

President Donald Trump, at the request of Chinese President Xi Jinping, has directed the Commerce Department to explore whether to loosen a seven-year ban on ZTE doing business with American companies in order to save jobs, both in China and in the United States.

"If we do decide to go forward with an alternative, what it literally would involve would be implanting people of our choosing into the company to constitute a compliance unit," that would report back to the Commerce Department Continue reading “Ross: U.S. wants American compliance officers at ZTE”

Pompeo: Trump administration will do right thing on ZTE

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday defended the Trump administration handling of sanctions against Chinese telecommunications company ZTE, and said the Commerce Department is still weighing how to roll back penalties on the firm at the request of China’s leader.

"We’re going to get this right," Pompeo said during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. "We’re going to reduce the risk from ZTE to America. It’s still under review, what’s taking place. I’ve been part of some of the discussions, although not all of them. But I understand at least as of yesterday afternoon, no final resolution had been reached."

Trump drew criticism earlier this month when he tweeted that he was working with Chinese President Xi Jinping to try to save ZTE after the Commerce Department had banned it from doing business with American companies for seven years because it had violated the terms of Continue reading “Pompeo: Trump administration will do right thing on ZTE”

Mnuchin: China will still be subject to tariffs on steel, aluminum

The Trump administration won’t lift new tariffs on steel and aluminum from China as part of a trade deal still being worked out, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday.

"As it relates to China, the steel and aluminum tariffs will remain in force. Those were not part of our discussions," Mnuchin told the Senate Appropriations Financial Services Subcommittee.

The fate of the steel tariffs was up in the air after two days of high-level U.S.-China trade talks last week. There was no reference to what would happen to the tariffs after the two countries issued a joint statement on Saturday.