Top U.S. trade official accuses China of “reneging” on pledge

Author: CBS News / Associated Press
Published: Updated:
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. (Credit: Face the Nation)
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. (Credit: Face the Nation)

A top U.S. trade official on Monday accused the Chinese government of “reneging on prior commitments,” raising the stakes ahead of a planned meeting this week aimed at resolving the countries’ dispute over trade.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer also said the higher tariffs on China that President Donald Trump threatened over the weekend will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time Friday. Trade talks with Chinese officials will resume on Thursday in Washington, leaving little time to defuse the conflict before the proposed levies take effect.

Mr. Trump on Sunday threatened over Twitter to more than double tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese products from 10 percent to 25 percent. He also vowed to impose levies on another $325 billion in Chinese imports, covering everything China ships annually to the U.S.

Concerns that the trade talks could collapse roiled global markets, with U.S. stocks falling sharply in early trade before regaining ground later in the session.

“President Trump’s credible threat to impose higher tariffs on China along with the negative confidence shock to financial markets represents a significant risk for U.S. households and businesses at a time when global headwinds remain a lingering concern and fiscal stimulus is dissipating,” Greg Daco, chief U.S. economist with Oxford Economics, said in a research note.

A recent study by economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Columbia University and Princeton University found that the burden of Mr. Trump’s tariffs fell entirely on U.S. consumers and businesses that buy imported products. By the end of last year, companies were paying $3 billion a month in higher tariffs and absorbing $1.4 billion a month in higher costs, the researchers concluded.

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