The Trump administration, deepening its global trade offensive, is preparing to levy tariffs on tens of billions of dollars of Chinese goods in the coming week, perhaps as early as Friday -- a move that is likely to spark heavy retaliation from Beijing.
Continue Reading Below
Senior trade officials in the White House, Commerce and Treasury departments, and the U.S. Trade Representative's office met on the issue before President Donald Trump went to a summit of the Group of Seven industrialized nations in Canada on Friday, and agreed that the U.S. should move ahead with tariffs, said U.S. officials and others briefed on the talks.
Mr. Trump hasn't given his final approval and could have second-thoughts about applying heavy pressure on China, the officials said, particularly because the U.S. wants Beijing's cooperation in its efforts to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.
Mr. Trump arrived back in Washington on Wednesday morning after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.
The exact amount of goods subject to tariffs is still being finalized. The administration's list was initially $50 billion in goods, but it is being refined as some products are taken off the list and others are added, following a public comment period.
The agreement by the heads of the agencies represents an unusual moment of consensus on trade in an administration often at odds with itself over how to proceed. Trade hawks in the administration want to crack down hard on China, while globalists are seeking compromise.
The Trump administration considers tariffs as necessary to press China to halt violations of U.S. intellectual property rules, including Beijing's forcing U.S. companies in China to transfer technology to their Chinese partners.