(Adds comment from retail trade group, list details)
By David Lawder and Eric Beech
WASHINGTON, May 13 (Reuters) - A list of products subject to possible U.S. tariffs on about $300 billion of Chinese imports will include cellphones and laptop computers but not pharmaceuticals and rare earth materials, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office said on Monday.
It said a public hearing will be held on June 17 on its list of 3,805 product categories that could be subject to tariffs of up to 25%. Final rebuttal comments are due seven days after the end of the hearing, USTR said, marking a much shorter public comment period than previous rounds.
Initial tariffs on a $200 billion list of Chinese imports received about 71 days of public scrutiny during the summer of 2018, versus as little as 42 days for the latest $300 billion round of tariffs.
The comment period would likely be completed before U.S. President Donald Trump goes to a G20 leaders summit in Japan on June 28-29, where he said he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The timing would allow him to be in a position to order the tariffs to be activated around that date.
The proposed list would cover nearly every consumer product left untouched by previous tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports, including cellphones, laptops and tablet computers. Apple Inc, whose products had escaped prior rounds of tariffs, saw its shares plunge 5.8 percent on Monday, taking U.S. stocks broadly lower.
The nearly 140-page list covers a wide variety of consumer products such as clothing, shoes, pencil sharpeners, books, bedsheets, and lawn mowers. It also includes fresh produce, meat, watches, pesticides, motorcycles, cocoa, infant formula, fireworks, yarn, baby pacifiers, and musical instruments.
“The latest tariff escalation is far too great a gamble for the U.S. economy,” National Retail Federation President Matthew Shay said in a statement. “Slapping tariffs on everything U.S. companies import from China – goods that support U.S. manufacturing and provide consumers with affordable products – will jeopardize American jobs and increase costs for consumers.”
The list excluded Chinese-made pharmaceuticals, inputs for pharmaceuticals and select medical products, and rare earth minerals. Some of those are considered important for the electric vehicle, defense and drug industries.
Product exclusions granted by USTR from prior rounds of tariffs will not be affected, including a group of exclusions announced earlier on Monday for small electric motors, water filters and other components. (Reporting by David Lawder and Eric Beech, additional reporting by David Shepardson and Humeyra Pamuk Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Rosalba O’Brien)