Trump Announces New Round Of $200 Billion Tariffs On Chinese Imports

Sep 17, 2018
Originally published on September 17, 2018 7:12 pm
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The Trump administration is plunging ahead with a plan to impose tariffs on $200-billion-worth of imported products from China. The move was announced by the president earlier this evening. Now, this comes on top of another round of tariffs imposed earlier this year. It's a significant escalation of the ongoing trade dispute with China. We're joined now by NPR's Jim Zarroli to explain more. Hey there, Jim.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: Hi.

CORNISH: So when do the tariffs kick in, and what kinds of products are affected?

ZARROLI: Well, they kick in next Monday. The U.S. is going to impose 10 percent tariffs on $200-billion-worth of products imported from China. And then, if there's no progress in negotiations with China, the tariffs will go up to 25 percent at the end of the year.

And the items that are targeted basically were on a list that was put out earlier this summer. A few items like bicycle helmets and Bluetooth devices and highchairs have been left out. But there will be tariffs on hundreds of other consumer items, things people buy - housewares, electronics, products of food. The first round of tariffs earlier this year hit a lot of intermediate goods, the kinds of things used in manufacturing, so consumers didn't feel them as directly. But they will feel these. They're really likely to mean higher prices on some items at some point.

CORNISH: I understand this is happening in two stages. Why?

ZARROLI: Senior administration officials talked about that to reporters today. They say they want to give American companies that import from China additional time to find new sources of supply. That - that's really been a big complaint all along. American companies often will tell you that they buy from China because they can't find anyone else to make what they need in any other place. You know, whether a few months is going to be enough time to replace all of the very many items we buy from China is - you know, it's not clear.

CORNISH: How is the administration justifying this round of tariffs?

ZARROLI: It's being done under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, very rarely used. It allows the president to impose tariffs when another country is guilty of unfair trade practices. Senior administration officials say they're not trying to restrain China's growth at all. But they say the U.S. has been trying for more than a year, really, to get China to change its trading practices to address some of the issues, like intellectual property theft, that have been a concern for a while. China hasn't done it. And in fact, it's retaliated with tariffs on U.S. goods, like farm products. So the Trump administration really says it has no choice but to do this.

CORNISH: Right. China's not afraid to respond in kind. What have we heard from them so far?

ZARROLI: Yeah. They've retaliated before. They seem perfectly willing to do so again. I mean, China's position all along has been it's not going to negotiate under pressure. A Chinese government official said that again this weekend. And at least on the surface, it looks like, you know, they're sticking to their guns. Right now, there are no trade talks of any significant kind scheduled between the United States and China. So I think we can basically expect another ratcheting up of trade tensions. And at this point, it's kind of hard to see how this dispute ends.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Jim Zarroli. Jim, thank you.

ZARROLI: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.