The United States could impose tariffs on roughly half of all Chinese goods entering the country by the end of the week.
President Donald Trump's proposed tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods could go into effect as soon as Friday when a public comment period on the taxes concludes. It's unclear whether the new tariffs will be set at 10% or 25%.
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It could be the most painful round of tariffs the United States has imposed on Chinese products this year. The Trump administration slapped 25% tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports in July and another $16 billion last month. China was also on the receiving end of the aluminum and steel tariffs that the United States imposed on imports from much of the world.
China is the United States' largest trading partner. Almost $506 billion of Chinese goods were sold in the United States last year. But the tariffs are meant to punish China for what the Trump Administration says are unfair trade practices, such as stealing intellectual property. China has accused the United States of trade bullying.
Beijing has retaliated at each step of the way. It has imposed 25% tariffs on $50 billion of American goods to date. It's also threatened to respond to the newest round with tariffs on another $60 billion of US goods. It's hard for China to match the United States' tariff on $200 billion of goods because the United States exports far less to China.
The US government has sought public comment on the proposed list of goods that would be affected by the tariffs. Public hearings were held during the last two weeks in August and American businesses were allowed to submit written comments on the proposal. The tariffs could go into effect on $200 billion of goods as soon as the public comment period closes on September 6.
Many American business owners say the tariffs are hurting their companies. They have to decide whether to pay the tariff on an imported good or find a new supplier outside China.
The CEO of Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, Jill Soltau, said proposed tariffs on fabric, yarn and fleece would punish her company and her customers, instead of hurting China. The company imports most of its fabric from China because there are no domestic suppliers that can meet its volume and quality requirements, she said at a hearing on August 23.
"We support the president's overall efforts to improve the balance of trade with China, yet targeting fabric and craft components is not the appropriate solution," Soltau said.
Once the tariffs go into effect, businesses can submit an application requesting the government exclude a specific product from the tariff. They must show that the good is not produced anywhere else. But the process is arduous and creates a lot of uncertainty for businesses while they wait for a ruling, which could take months.