August 28, 2019 / 2:54 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 2-U.S. trade agency affirms Trump's extra 5% tariff hike on Chinese goods

(Adds comment from USTR on Oct. 1 tariff hike, details on goods)

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON, Aug 28 (Reuters) - The U.S. Trade Representative’s office on Wednesday reaffirmed President Donald Trump’s plans to impose an additional 5% tariff on a list of $300 billion of Chinese imports starting on Sept. 1 and Dec. 15.

The USTR said in an official notice that on Sept 1, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency will begin collecting a 15% tariff on a portion of the list that contains over $125 billion of targeted goods from China, including smartwatches, Bluetooth headphones, flat panel televisions and footwear.

A 15% tariff will be levied on the remainder of the list, which includes cellphones, laptop computers, toys and clothing, from Dec. 15, the agency said in the Federal Register filing.

The Trump administration had previously planned to impose a lower 10% tariff on the $300 billion of imports, which represents nearly all the remaining U.S. imports from China yet to be hit with punitive U.S. tariffs.

Trump announced the tariff increase last Friday on Twitter, in response to Chinese retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods, including crude oil, escalating the protracted trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

The Federal Register notice, however, did not mention Trump’s announcement of his intention to increase the duty to 30% on a separate list of $250 billion of Chinese imports from Oct. 1, that are already being taxed at 25%.

A USTR spokesman said the Oct. 1 tariff increase, along with a process for collecting public comments on it, will be detailed in another Federal Register notice.

"China's most recent response of announcing a new tariff increase on U.S. goods has shown that the current action being taken is no longer appropriate," USTR said in the notice here posted to a government website on Wednesday.

The Trump administration has, for two years, been trying to persuade China to eliminate unfair trade practices and make sweeping changes to its policies on intellectual property protection, forced transfers of technology to Chinese firms, industrial subsidies and market access.

The U.S.-China trade dispute in July 2018 boiled over into tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of each other’s goods and threatens to engulf all trade between the countries, putting global growth at risk.

USTR accuses China of “unfair acts, policies and practices,” including its retaliatory tariffs and “concrete steps to devalue its currency,” allegations denied by Beijing.

The U.S. Treasury earlier this month declared China a currency manipulator.

“In short, instead of addressing the underlying problems, China has increased tariffs and adopted or threatened additional retaliation to further protect the unreasonable acts, policies, and practices identified in the investigation, resulting in increased harm to the U.S. economy,” USTR said in the notice. (Reporting by David Lawder, Andrea Shalal and David Shepardson; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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