President Donald Trump decided to impose tariffs on about $50 billion (RMB 320 billion) in Chinese imports, according to two people familiar with the matter, in a move likely to escalate trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies. The size of the approved tariffs matches the scale of duties proposed in April, suggesting the president isn’t bowing to warnings that trade penalties may derail relations with China as the U.S. seeks to maintain pressure on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program. The Trump administration had prepared a refined list of Chinese products to be hit with tariffs that homes in on technologies where China wants to establish itself as a leader, according to five different people familiar with the matter.
In April, the U.S. revealed an initial list targeting about 1,300 products worth $50 billion in Chinese imports. Some products were taken off the preliminary list but none were added, said one of the people familiar with the decision. The tariffs could be applied in stages, according to two of the people briefed on the administration’s plans. Duties will take effect on some products within weeks. Tariffs on any products added to the U.S. Trade Representative’s list would be subject to a period of public feedback.
Trump said this week he’ll confront China “very strongly” over trade in the coming weeks. “China could be a little bit upset about the trade because we are very strongly clamping down on trade,” the president said in a Fox News interview on Wednesday.