UPDATE: President Trump Again Raises Tariffs on Chinese Imports, 'Orders' U.S. Companies to Find Alternatives to China
Ten days ago, the Trump Administration announced that it would delay certain 10 percent tariffs on Chinese goods until December, and would completely remove some from the list entirely. In the absence of any clear resolution to the trade war, it was a welcome relief—though a small and temporary one—for U.S. companies and consumers, and perhaps a reason to remain optimistic that an agreement could soon come.
While this might have been a positive step, it's not time to get excited yet. Today, China announced that it would increase tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. products in the latest edition of the constant tug-of-war between the two countries. According to CBS News, Chinese officials didn't specify which products would be affected by the tariff increase, but reported that "the timing matches Mr. Trump's planned duty hikes" on Sept. 1 and Dec. 15.
In response, President Trump took to Twitter to demand that U.S. businesses "immediately start looking for an alternative to China," and bring their manufacturing back stateside.
"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," the president tweeted. "I will be responding to China's tariffs this afternoon."
It's unclear what that actually means, or how much authority the Trump Administration actually has to dictate where and how U.S. companies source their goods. And there's always the disclaimer that we should take the president's tweets grain of salt. Obviously, a tweet is not legally binding policy.
But, at this point, it's pretty clear that the two sides are nowhere closer to a deal than they were before in a trade war that's now putting real pressure on U.S. companies.
We will update this post once more information becomes available, including that relating to President Trump's promised response.
Update 8/23 - 5:40 p.m. ET - We now know about that response. In a series of tweets Friday afternoon, the president said he will raise tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports from 25 percent to 30 percent, effective Oct. 1. He will also raise tariffs on the additional $300 billion in Chinese imports from 10 percent to 15 percent, effective Sept. 1.
As we've covered, the combined lists of tariffed items includes most promotional products and related items and materials imported from China.