US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, pictured in Beijing in May, said his office is beginning the process of imposing additional tariffs on Chinese goods [AFP]
The United States late Tuesday listed the $200 billion in Chinese export goods that could be hit with tariffs of 10 percent as soon as September, escalating the trade war between the world's two largest economies.
President Donald Trump vowed to hit back after China retaliated for the first round of 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion worth of imports that Washington imposed last week.
The US Trade Representative office will hold hearings on the targeted products, and an administration official said it would take about two months to finalize the list, at which point Trump would decide whether to go ahead with the tariffs.
"As a result of China's retaliation and failure to change its practices, the president has ordered USTR to begin the process of imposing tariffs of 10 percent on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports," USTR Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.
The goal is to bring the total amount of Chinese imports up to 40 percent of the total imported from the Asian power, since the US products hit by Beijing's retaliation represent that share of exports, an official told reporters in a conference call.
The officials said China has rebuffed US complaints about unfair trading practices -- including theft or forced transfer of American technology -- and denied any harm was done to US companies, and instead retaliated "without any international legal basis or justification," Lighthizer said.
USTR continues to work on the process of finalizing an additional $16 billion in goods to face 25 percent tariffs, and Beijing has vowed to retaliate dollar-for-dollar.
The latest list of goods to face 10 percent punitive duties includes frozen meats, a long list of live and fresh fish and seafood, butter, onions, garlic and other vegetables, fruits, nuts, metals, and a massive list of chemicals.
The officials said they tried to target goods that would reduce the harm to US consumers.