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U.S. Plans More China Tariffs If Trump-Xi Meeting Fails, Sources Say

EconomyOct 29, 2018 03:20PM ET
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© Bloomberg. U.S. President Donald Trump, right, speaks with Xi Jinping, China's president, during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. is preparing to announce by early December tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports if talks next month between presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping fail to ease the trade war, three people familiar with the matter said.

An early-December announcement of a new product list would mean the effective date -- after a 60-day public comment period -- may coincide with China’s Lunar New Year holiday in early February. The list would would apply to the imports from the Asian nation that aren’t already covered by previous rounds of tariffs -- which may be $257 billion using last year’s import figures, according to two of the people.

U.S. officials are preparing for such a scenario in case a planned Trump-Xi meeting yields no progress on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires in November, according to two of the people, who declined to be identified to discuss internal deliberations. They cautioned that final decisions had not been made.

The move indicates the Trump administration remains willing to escalate its trade war with China even as companies complain about the rising costs of tariffs and financial markets continue to be nervous about the global economic fallout.

Stocks erase gains partly on concern about an escalating trade war between the world’s two largest economies. The S&P 500 Index was little changed at 2,662.39 at 2:15 p.m. in New York, after earlier rising as much as 1.8 percent.

The U.S. this year has already imposed tariffs on $250 billion in trade with China. Ten percent tariffs on $200 billion in imports that took effect in September are due to increase to 25 percent on Jan. 1. Trump has also threatened to impose tariffs on the remaining goods imports from China, which last year were worth $505 billion.

“We are in the middle of a pretty nasty dispute. We’re in a trade dispute -- I want to use that word because it’s a nice, soft word -- but we’re going to win,” Trump said on Saturday at an event in Indiana. “You know why? ’Cause we always win.”

A request for comment from the White House was not immediately answered.

As another option, the White House is also considering excluding trade from the meeting agenda but it is unlikely to cancel it altogether, according to two people familiar with the matter.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday said a meeting between Trump and Xi at the Nov. 30-Dec. 1 summit was still in the planning stages.

U.S. Plans More China Tariffs If Trump-Xi Meeting Fails, Sources Say
 

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