Report: Trump on Board for $50 Billion in Additional Tariffs on Chinese Goods

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to guests during a campaign stop at Memorial High School on April 2, 2016 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Washington, DC

The United States is expected to announce $50 billion in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods on Friday, a decision President Donald Trump sanctioned on Thursday afternoon, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

The decision is in line with the president’s March directive to the U.S. Trade Representatives office to conduct a section 301 investigation into Chinese trade practices.

President Trump met with senior trade, economic, and national security advisers at the White House Thursday afternoon, CNBC reported earlier in the day, citing three sources familiar with the potential tariff announcement. That report predicted an estimated 800-900 Chinese products. That is down from the approximately 1,300 the U.S. Trade Representative suggested in April.

A White House official did not deny the possibility of a Friday tariff announcement. The White House did not list the meeting between Trump and the officials on a daily schedule of meetings, and the official said that they do not produce lists of attendees for private meetings. 

The WSJ reported that the meeting involved unnamed senior officials from the White House, U.S. Trade Representative’s office, Treasury and Commerce departments, and national security officials.

USTR is expected to release the list of affected goods on Friday.

President Trump warned in March that the U.S. may choose to impose $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, citing China’s unfair trading practices, intellectual property practices and forced transfer of technology. He charged USTR with conducting a section 301 investigation into the matter.

A USTR report cited in the initiation of the 301 investigation stated, “As the global economy has increased its dependence on information systems in recent years, cyber theft became one of China’s preferred methods of collecting commercial information because of its logistical advantages and plausible deniability.”

China threatened $50 billion in tariffs on the U.S. in retaliation to the proposed $50 billion in U.S. tariffs on China. President Trump shot back with a warning of up to an additional $100 billion in U.S. tariffs on China. Chinese President Xi Jinping seemed to relent to some extent in response, showing a willingness to lower Chinese tariffs on U.S. auto imports to their country.

The White House has said that Xi’s response is encouraging but that the U.S. would not relent in proposed tariffs until the Trump administration sees “concrete actions from China.”

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana.