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Trump plans to hit China with $60 bn in annual tariffs

Washington:  Following up on his threat to punish Beijing for intellectual property theft, US President Donald Trump is preparing to hit China with a $60 billion annual tariff package.

The tariff package, which Trump plans to unveil by Friday, was confirmed by four senior administration officials, the Washington Post reported.

Senior aides had provided the President with a $30 billion tariff package but Trump ordered them to double it.

The package could be applied to over 100 products, which Trump argued were developed using trade secrets from American firms that China either stole or forced them to hand over in exchange for access to its massive market.

If implemented, the tariff package would be one of the broadest sets of economic actions imposed by a modern US President against China and could draw retaliation, fraying the trade partnership between two of the world’s largest economies.

“This looks much more like a President who is excessively eager to apply tariffs than a well-calculated move to defend American interests,” said Phil Levy, who was a trade advisor to President George W. Bush.

“There are real concerns about Chinese behaviour on intellectual property, for example, but there are much more effective ways to address them,” he said.

The new tariffs follow Trump’s recent announcement of a 25 per cent tariff on imported steel and 10 per cent tariff on imported aluminium.

Although a couple of vital trading partners, such as Canada and Mexico, were excluded from the tariffs in the original announcement — and it’s possible more could be excluded — the European Union has said it will enact retaliatory measures, and other countries could follow suit.

Many Republicans have also spoken out against the steel and aluminium tariffs and GOP Senator Jeff Flake also introduced a bill to nullify them.