CNN/ Financial Times – President Donald Trump has given his approval for the United States to put tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese exports, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
An official announcement is expected on Friday. The president’s green light came after a meeting Thursday with top economic officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
The move represents a serious escalation of trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies — just as Trump has also picked fights with allies Canada, Mexico and the European Union over steel and aluminum.
The final decision, which the Trump administration claims is justified by Beijing’s longstanding theft of US companies’ intellectual property, came at a gathering of the president’s top White House trade advisers on Thursday, according to people briefed on the meeting’s outcome.
It sets the stage for a major escalation of trade hostilities between the two countries. It also follows Mr Trump’s decisions in recent weeks to begin levying tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Canada, the EU and Japan, provoking a rift with G7 allies. “The Trump administration is now poised to open another front in its rapidly expanding global trade war,” said Eswar Prasad, a Cornell University economist and China expert.