Trump prepares China tariff target list as confrontation escalates

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Washington : President Donald Trump on Friday was due to unveil a final list of Chinese imports that would face punishing tariffs but it remained uncertain whether he would hold fire as part of a negotiating strategy. Imposing the tariffs would escalate the trade confrontation with Beijing, and potentially set off a round of tit-for-tat retaliation, which economists warn would damage the global economy. The deadline to release the list comes as Washington faces a dizzying array of parallel diplomatic horse trading, as Trump is increasingly dependent on Beijing to help advance efforts at North Korean denuclearization, while also using aggressive trade tactics on all major US economic partners. The president’s trade team, including senior officials from the Commerce and Treasury departments, were due to gather Thursday at the White House to finalize the list of Chinese goods on the hit list. A report in the Wall Street Journal quoting sources close to the matter said Thursday evening the list had been approved and would affect about $50 billion worth of goods, the same figure that was first announced in March. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged Washington to avoid a “lose-lose approach” on trade. Trump has frequently reversed course, threatening and then backing away, or vice versa, but he has appeared determined to take a hard line with Beijing. “What we’re seeing here is a bargaining process in which the Trump team has found that by continuing to put pressure on China, the offers have become better and better,” said Dennis Wilder, head of a Georgetown University program on US-China relations.

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