US President Donald Trump doubles down on China tariffs

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Washington: US President Donald Trump said Thursday he is ordering the US Trade Representative to consider $100 billion in additional tariffs on Chinese goods, ratcheting up the US-China trade war after his administration signalled it would be willing negotiate.

US stock futures dropped on Trump’s latest trade directive. S&P 500 Index futures slid as much as 1.2%, after the underlying gauge ended up 0.7% on Thursday.

“In light of China’s unfair retaliation, I have instructed the USTR to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate under section 301 and, if so, to identify the products upon which to impose such tariffs,” Trump said in a statement issued by the White House.

China said Wednesday it would levy a 25% tariff on about $50 billion of US imports including soybeans, automobiles, chemicals and aircraft. That was in response to the release by the US of a list of proposed tariffs a day earlier, covering $50 billion in Chinese goods.

Trump chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow and other administration officials spent the past two days tamping down fears of a US-China trade war.

Yet Trump signalled a harder line in a speech earlier Thursday, saying it is time to stop China from “taking advantage” of America.

“You have to go after the people who aren’t treating you right,” Trump said in West Virginia. “We’re going to have a fantastic relationship long term with China but we have to get this straightened out, we have to have some balance.”

Kudlow, his newly installed economic adviser, has spent days trying to calm investors who are concerned the spat will spark a trade war, saying on Thursday the administration was involved in “delicate negotiations” that might forestall the need for tariffs. He said the US could still hammer out a deal with Beijing, in part by convincing other major economies to call out the Asian nation for unfair trading practiceslivemint