President Donald Trump is preparing to impose a package of $60 billion in annual tariffs against Chinese products following through on a long-time threat that he says will punish China for intellectual property theft and create more American jobs.
The tariff package, which Trump plans to unveil by Friday, was confirmed by four senior administration officials.
Senior aides had presented Trump with a $30 billion tariff package that would apply to a range of products, but Trump directed them to roughly double the scope of the new trade levies. The package could be applied to more than 100 products, which Trump argues were developed by using trade secrets the Chinese stole from U.S. companies or forced them to hand over in exchange for access to its massive market.
The situation remains fluid, and Trump has previously in his presidency backed off economic threats at the last minute. But he has shown a recent willingness to unilaterally impose tariffs – even amid objections from advisers who fear starting a global trade war and economists who warn such actions could ultimately hurt American businesses.
Trump was particularly determined to follow through on tariffs on China, as criticism of U.S.-China relations was at the center of his presidential campaign, according to the administration officials who demanded anonymity to discuss the president’s plans.
If implemented, the tariff package would be the broadest set of punitive economic actions imposed by a modern U.S. president against China and could draw retaliation, fraying the trade partnership between two of the world’s largest economies.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Damian Paletta, Steven Mufson, Josh Dawsey