- The Washington Times - Friday, August 23, 2019

President Trump said Friday he will beef up existing and planned tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods, in the latest escalation of an increasingly bitter trade war that has rattled global markets.

Mr. Trump said $250 billion worth of Chinese imports being taxed at 25% instead will face a 30% levy as of Oct. 1, while a remaining $300 billion in goods will be taxed at 15% — instead of 10% — when they take effect Sept. 1.

The president said he was striking back at Beijing, which earlier in the day said it planned to impose additional tariffs on key American goods. However, it was more of an incremental step than Mr. Trump teased earlier in the day, in which he suggested he would try to move American business out of China.

“We must Balance this very unfair Trading Relationship,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter. “China should not have put new Tariffs on 75 BILLION DOLLARS of United States product (politically motivated!).”

A top Republican, Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, backed Mr. Trump but warned that stiffer tariffs may harm to farmers.

He said it’s up to China, not Mr. Trump, to forge a way out of the standoff.

“The only way to end this trade war is for China to come to the table and negotiate seriously on an enforceable deal that ends its bad behavior and unfair trade practices. In the meantime, tariffs cannot be the only negotiating tool. Tariffs are not a long-term solution,” said Mr. Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Yet Rep. T.J. Cox, a Democrat from California’s Central Valley, said it’s Mr. Trump who must set the tone.

“This administration should immediately end this disastrous policy and help get our agriculture economy back on its feet,” he said.

Retailers, meanwhile, said they’re exasperated.

“It’s impossible for businesses to plan for the future in this type of environment. The administration’s approach clearly isn’t working, and the answer isn’t more taxes on American businesses and consumers. Where does this end?” said David French, senior vice president of government relations at the National Retail Federation.

Mr. Trump’s announcement followed a tumultuous day on Wall Street.

Stocks plummeted after Mr. Trump said on Twitter he would compel U.S. companies to pull out of China, citing Beijing’s new tariffs. China said it will impose some of the new tariffs beginning Sept. 1, with others kicking in on Dec. 15.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 623 points, or 2.37%, to close at 25,628. The tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 3%, and the S&P 500 dropped 2.59%.

Investors reacted to the series of threatening tweets that Mr. Trump issued at 10:59 a.m. The president “ordered” U.S. companies to start moving out of China, although legally he has no authority to force such action.

“We don’t need China and, frankly, would be far better off without them. The vast amounts of money made and stolen by China from the United States, year after year, for decades, will and must STOP,” Mr. Trump tweeted.

“Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA,” he added.

Mr. Trump said he also wants shipping entities such as FedEx, UPS, the U.S. Postal Service and Amazon to “search for and refuse” packages that contain illicit fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that often comes from China.

“President Xi said this would stop — it didn’t,” Mr. Trump wrote, referring to Mr. Xi’s promise to schedule the drug and crack down on clandestine labs in China.

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