Trump seeking tariffs on up to US$60 bln Chinese goods

"As a close security and trade partner of the United States, the European Union must be excluded from the announced measures", she tweeted after bilateral and trilateral meetings.

Tariffs on tech exports could potentially hit the fastest growing segment of China's industrial sector, as Trump seeks to impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese imports in the very near future.

"China does not wish to fight a trade war, nor will China initiate a trade war, but we can handle any challenge and will resolutely defend the interests of our country and our people", he said.

While the tariffs have been introduced under the pretext of national security concerns, UK Steel claims only around three per cent of steel in the US is used for defence, and many see the move as politically motivated (a congressional seat in Pittsburgh, home to US Steel, is now up for grabs). "That is the reason why, a few years ago, we started trade negotiations with the United States", he said.

A second person, who is an industry lobbyist in Washington familiar with the administration's thinking, said the process was being led by Peter Navarro, an avowed protectionist, and by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who also favors tariffs as a tool to rebalance trade.

After meetings with USA trade envoy Robert Lighthizer in Brussels, EU and Japanese trade officials said negotiations would need to continue.

"Their incentive to negotiate is to head us off from a major trade conflict". The bloc does impose a 10 percent levy on US vehicle imports, but the USA charges a 25 percent levy on trucks and pick-ups, and up to 40 percent on some clothes, she said.

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Lighthizer did not make any immediate comment after the meetings.

The visit had been planned for weeks as a follow-up discussion on over capacity, seen by observers as a swipe at China.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative submitted a proposal to the White House calling for tariffs on a range of Chinese products, restrictions on investment by Chinese companies in the United States, and limits on visas for certain Chinese nationals, according to the Nikkei Asian Review newspaper, citing a source familiar with global trade.

A China-based business source with knowledge of discussion among senior European officials said there had been a "clear effort" by the USA government over the past six months to introduce a coordinated approach to Chinese industrial policy, but that Trump's metals tariffs had undermined European support.

Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen warned Washington on Friday not to expect any concessions to win an exemption.

The EU is also maintaining a threat of counter-measures that would target USA imports ranging from maize to motorcycles, and may publish its list next week to allow industry and other interested parties to give their input.

European steel and aluminum associations have warned that the US tariffs could cost their sectors thousands of jobs.

  • Megan Austin