By PAUL WISEMAN AND ANNE D’INNOCENZIO, AP BUSINESS WRITERS, abcnews.com
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration may be about to slap tariffs of up to 25 percent on an additional $200 billion in Chinese goods, escalating a confrontation between the world’s two biggest economies and likely squeezing U.S. companies that import everything from handbags to bicycle tires.
The administration could decide to begin taxing the imports — equal to nearly 40 percent of all the goods China sold the United States last year — after a public comment period ends Thursday.
The administration has already imposed tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese products, and Beijing has punched back with tariffs on $50 billion in American goods. These U.S. goods include soybeans and beef — a direct shot at supporters of President Donald Trump in the U.S. farm belt. China plans to tax an additional $60 billion in U.S. products if the Trump administration expands its hit list by $200 billion.
Trump initiated the trade war to punish Beijing for what it says are China’s predatory tactics to try to supplant U.S. technological supremacy. Those tactics, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has alleged, include stealing trade secrets through computer hacking and forcing U.S. companies to hand over technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market.