– Confrontation with key partners –
The announcement caps months of sometimes fraught shuttle diplomacy between Washington and Beijing, in which Chinese offers to purchase more US goods failed to assuage Trump’s grievances over the soaring US-China trade imbalance and Beijing’s industrial development policies.
But Trump’s China trade offensive is only one side of his multi-front confrontation with all major US economic partners.
Trump outraged Canadian, Mexican and European leaders last month by imposing punishing tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum to protect American producers from allegedly unfair competition.
US officials say Beijing has sought industrial dominance in the emerging technologies through the theft of American know-how through forced technology transfers, hacking and other forms industrial espionage.
The release of goods lists also comes after jockeying by American companies dependent on certain imports who sought exemptions for certain goods — a process that is due to continue with the second, $16-billion tranche of Chinese imports.
The trade representative’s office acknowledged public concern that the tariffs list could raise prices for consumers.
“The list does not include goods commonly purchased by American consumers such as cellular telephones or televisions,” the office said.