U.S. President Donald Trump instructed aides on Thursday to proceed with tariffs on about $200 billion more in Chinese products despite his Treasury secretary’s attempt to restart talks with Beijing to resolve the trade war, according to four people familiar with the matter.
But an announcement of the new round of tariffs has been delayed as the administration considers revisions based on concerns raised in public comments, the people said. Trump may be running low on products he can target without significant backlash from major U.S. companies and consumers, two of the people said.
The threat of fresh tariffs roiled financial markets. U.S. stocks erased gains, dropping to session lows, while the dollar strengthened versus the Chinese offshore yuan by the most in two weeks. Technology shares led declines, with Apple falling as much as 1.7 per cent. The iPhone maker last week warned that new tariffs could increase the cost of its products.
Trump met with his top trade advisers on Thursday to discuss the China tariffs, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the people said. Mnuchin has led a recent overture to the Chinese to re-start trade talks.
Trump was asked during the meeting whether he was concerned about the impact of the new tariffs on negotiations with China. He responded that he wasn’t, two of the people said.
The public comment period for a list of tariffs on about $200 billion in Chinese goods closed last week, and Trump said the duties would be imposed “soon.” The new round would be in addition to $50 billion in Chinese goods that already face a 25 percent duty.
The Chinese have retaliated with tariffs on an equivalent amount of U.S. exports, and have promised to match future rounds of U.S. duties.