The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative views China’s $50 billion tariff threat in response USTR’s Section 301 tariff recommendations as “unjustified” and an attempt to “intimidate” the Trump administration, a USTR official said Wednesday.
[Jack Caporal | April 5, 2018 | Inside US Trade]
The official said there was no deadline to finalize the tariff list on about $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, but added that USTR would seek to present final options to President Trump and USTR Robert Lighthizer as quickly as possible. Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow have said the administration was negotiating with China over trade issues, but the USTR official refused to comment further on those talks or the potential that the tariffs might not be imposed.
USTR on Tuesday revealed its list of about 1,300 Chinese goods it recommended for a 25 percent tariff due to unfair alleged intellectual property practices outlined in its Section 301 report. China responded by threatening its own tariffs on $50 billion worth of U.S. goods, including soybeans and aircraft. China has also said it has requested consultations with the U.S. at the World Trade Organization over the tariff list.
“What they did in response was to simply announce by fiat $50 billion worth of potential tariffs. There’s no investigation as far as I’m aware of, there’s no legal theory as to why they do this or how the WTO allows them to do this or anything of the sort,” the USTR official said, adding, “It’s just simply an effort I think to intimidate us or to get us to back down so they can continue doing all the bad things that we outlined in our report.”