The Trump administration will continue with a plan to impose a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods and restrict Beijing's investment in high-tech companies in the United States, the White House said Tuesday.
President Donald Trump said Tuesday he is moving to finalize trade sanctions against China even as a United States delegation is set to travel to Beijing for talks to resolve the dispute.
It said the final list of covered imports, worth around $50bn (£38bn), will be published on June 15, with the 25pc tariff imposed shortly after.
The White House said Tuesday that it would provide details of the Chinese products affected by the new tariffs on June 15 and that they will take effect "shortly thereafter". In particular, China's favoring of its own companies over foreign firms and its handling of intellectual property rights, or lack there of, with companies that do business on the mainland.
The two sides had agreed earlier this month to look at steps to narrow China's $375-billion trade surplus with the United States.
China hawk White House Director of Trade and Policy Peter Navarro was largely absent from last week's talks in Washington led by Liu He, China's top economic advisor. "No matter what measures the US will take, China is confident and capable of defending our national interests", the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said on Tuesday.
The import duty is part of multiple steps the USA would take to protect domestic technology and intellectual property from certain discriminatory and burdensome trade practices by China, the White House said. The Chinese law firm that handles Ivanka Trump's intellectual property in China also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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"We're putting the trade war on hold", Mnuchin told Fox News last weekend.
"Last week, the President revealed the utter hollowness of his promises by pledging the American government resources to a Chinese company that has violated USA sanctions by selling technology to North Korea and Iran, and that is a known cyber security risk to the United States", she said. "We are very surprised by the White House statement".
There are a few tactical reasons the Trump administration may have decided on Tuesday to go ahead with tariffs and investment restrictions.
Investor Wilbur Ross was brought into the administration as one of President Donald Trump's "killers" - but in recent months, the commerce secretary has been increasingly marginalized, with his agency widely seen in the White House as a mess. "If Chinese businesses can make an investment in the U.S., American companies should be able to make the same investment in China".
Other analysts, however, say the newly confrontational stance may be meant to appease congressional critics of a deal the Trump administration made Friday that allowed Chinese telecom giant ZTE Corp.to stay in business.
The president has been seeking Chinese agreement to reduce the $375 billion US goods trade deficit and to drop trade practices that he said hurt American companies.
China has no reason to address issues brought up by the United States if the government's priorities appear to be constantly in flux, said Eric Altbach, senior vice president at Albright Stonebridge Group and former deputy assistant U.S. trade representative for China under President Barack Obama.