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Donald Trump to unveil tariffs on at least $40bn of Chinese imports

President Donald Trump has approved a plan to impose punishingtariffson tens of billions of dollars of Chinese goods as early as Friday, a move that could set his trade policies on a collision course with his push to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons.
Mr Trump has promised to fulfill a campaign pledge to clamp down on what he considers unfair Chinese trading practices. But his calls for billions intariffscould complicate his efforts to maintain China's support in his negotiations with North Korea.
Mr Trump met on Thursday with several cabinet members and trade advisers and was expected to imposetariffson at least $35bn to $40bn (?25bn to ?30bn) of Chinese imports, according to an industry official and an administration official familiar with the plans.
The amount of goods could reach $55bn, said the industry official. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the matter ahead of a formal announcement.
If the president presses forward as expected, it could set the stage for a series of trade actions against China and lead to retaliation from Beijing. Mr Trump has already slappedtariffson steel and aluminium imports from Canada, Mexico and European allies, and his proposedtariffsagainst China risk starting a trade war involving the world's two biggest economies.
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The decision on the Chinesetariffscomes in the aftermath of Mr Trump's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The president has co-ordinated closely with China on efforts to get Pyongyang to eliminate its nuclear arsenal. But he signalled that whatever the implications, "I have to do what I have to do" to address the trade imbalance.
Mr Trump, in his press conference in Singapore on Tuesday, said the UShada "tremendous deficit in trade with China and we have to do something about it. We can't continue to let that happen." The UStrade deficit with China was $336bn in 2017.
Administration officials have signalled support for imposing thetariffsin a dispute over allegations that Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology, according to officials briefed on the plans. China has targeted $50bn in Americanproducts for potential retaliation.
Donald Trump to unveil tariffs on at least $40bn of Chinese imports

Mike Pompeo meets Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing

Credit:
Fred Dufour/Reuters
Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, raised the trade issue directly with China on Thursday, when he travelled toBeijing to meet President Xi Jinping and other officials, the State Department said. Officials would not say whether Mr Pompeo explicitly informed the Chinese that thetariffswould be coming imminently.
"I stressed how important it is for President Trump to rectify that situation so that trade becomes more balanced, more reciprocal and more fair, with the opportunity to have American workers be treated fairly," Mr Pompeo said Thursday during a joint news conference with Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister.
Wall Street has viewed the escalating trade tensions with wariness, fearful that they could strangle the economic growth achieved during Trump's watch and undermine the benefits of the tax cuts he signed into law last year.
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"If you end up with a tariff battle, you will end up with price inflation, and you could end up with consumer debt. Those are all historic ingredients for an economic slowdown," Gary Cohn, Mr Trump's former top economic adviser, said at an event sponsored by The Washington Post.
But Steve Bannon, Trump's former White House and campaign adviser, said the crackdown on China's trade practices was "the central part of Trump's economic nationalist message. His fundamental commitment to the 'deplorables' on the campaign trail was that he was going to bring manufacturing jobs back, particularly from Asia."
In the trade fight, Mr Bannon said, Trump hadconverted three major tools that "the American elites considered off the table" - namely, the use oftariffs, the technology investigation of China and penalties on Chinese telecom giant ZTE.
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"That's what has gotten us to the situation today where the Chinese are actually at the table," Mr Bannon said. "It's really not justtariffs, it'stariffson a scale never before considered."
The Chinese have threatened to counterpunch if the president goes ahead with the plan. Chinese officials have said they would drop agreements reached last month to buy more USsoybeans, natural gas and other products.
"We made clear that if the U.S. rolls out trade sanctions, including the imposition oftariffs, all outcomes reached by the two sides in terms of trade and economy will not come into effect," said Geng Shuang,foreign ministry spokesman.
Beijing has also drawn up a list of $50 billion in U.S. products that would face retaliatorytariffs, including beef and soybeans - a shot at Trump's supporters in rural America.
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