According to sources in the Administration, President Trump is looking to impose tariffs on $2 billion in Chinese imports next week. Specifically, people involved in the process say the president plans on initiating the tariffs once the public comment period ends on September 6.
Members of the public, companies, and trade associations impacted by the proposed duties have until September 6 to submit comments on the matter.
Sources did note that the president has not made a final decision on this and that it could be a possibility that the Administration enacts the duties in staggered installments. This seems like a more realistic approach. With over three hundred testimonies heard by the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) Section 301 Committee over a six day period, in addition to the thousands of public comments already submitted, there is simply no way the Administration could consider every party’s input by next week.
The United States has already imposed $50 billion worth of tariffs – tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese products went into effect in early July and an additional $16 billion was levied in August. China reciprocated with $50 billion worth of its own tariffs.
As trade negotiations between the world’s two largest economies have seemingly stagnated, the levying of an additional $200 billion in tariffs would be a major escalation in the trade war. China, for their part, has threatened retaliation with $60 billion worth of duties on U.S. goods.
Further hampering the difficult negotiations, the president yesterday accused China of non-cooperating with the U.S.’ nuclear non-proliferation efforts with North Korea.
Bitter infighting within President Trump’s cabinet on how to best approach the tenuous trade issues is leading to a split with USTR Robert Lighthizer and trade advisor Peter Navarro advocating for quick action and results while Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and economic advisor Larry Kudlow argue for a slower, more methodical approach to the negotiations. Some experts posit that if the president were to pass the baton to Lighthizer, still fresh off his most recent NAFTA victories, the Administration would finally see serious, productive negotiations take place between the two nations.