American Shipper

Trump administration could hike tariff levels to 25 percent

American Shipper told administration could move to increase the rate of tariffs proposed against $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent.

   The Trump administration could raise the level of Section 301 tariffs threatened across $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent, a source with knowledge of executive branch considerations told American Shipper Wednesday.
   “Bear in mind that its being considered, not yet done,” the source said of the news, which was originally reported by Bloomberg on Tuesday evening.
   The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on July 10 announced plans to levy 10 percent tariffs on goods from China totaling $200 billion in annual import value, after the U.S. imposed 25 percent tariffs across $34 billion worth of goods from China in 2017 import value on July 6 and announced plans to implement a second tranche of 25 percent tariffs across $16 billion worth of annual Chinese imports.
   The comment period for the potential tariffs to cover the $16 billion worth of goods expired Tuesday.
   “I think we can expect something soon,” National Retail Federation Vice President of Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jon Gold said in an email, referring to potential measures the Trump administration could take regarding the $200 billion worth of goods.
   USTR declined to comment, and the White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.
   As part of its attempts to rebalance trade and crack down on unfair commercial practices with regard to China, including forced technology transfers from U.S. companies, the Trump administration continually has escalated actions and rhetoric over the last several months aimed at restricting imports from the nation and countering China’s trade practices.
   More than doubling Section 301 tariffs on goods from China would likely exacerbate an already tense situation for U.S. foreign-trade zones, as higher duties mean higher costs for FTZ manufacturers that foreign competitors don’t have to pay, National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones President Erik Autor said in email.
   USTR outlined Chinese commercial practices deemed unfair in a March-released report of an agency investigation under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.
   The USTR-led interagency Section 301 Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing to examine potential Section 301 tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods Aug. 20-23, at the International Trade Commission in Washington, D.C.
   Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Lie He are having private conversations while they look to revive U.S.-China trade negotiations, as the Trump administration is preparing to potentially release a Federal Register notice in the coming days to bump up the proposed tariff rate on $200 billion worth of imports from China from 10 percent to 25 percent, Bloomberg reported.
   Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said during a regular press conference Wednesday that China would “definitely take countermeasures to resolutely safeguard” its rights and interests, should the U.S. further “escalate the situation,” and he said the U.S. cannot “have its way by pressuring or blackmail.”
   While China has imposed retaliatory tariffs commensurate with the United States’ first $34 billion in tariffs and has announced plans to retaliate against the next planned $16 billion, the country wouldn’t be able to match another $200 billion in U.S. tariffs tit-for-tat, as China exported only $130 billion worth of goods to the U.S. in 2017.