President Trump criticized trade agreements with other nations Wednesday morning, as he attends North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meetings. China, for example, exports far more to the US than the USA exports to China, resulting in Beijing's trade surplus of $375.2 billion in 2017.
White House officials said the president has asked USA trade representative Robert Lighthizer to begin preparations for levies of 10 per cent on a host of consumer products, just days after the two economic giants hit one another with $34bn export tariffs.
The latest moves came last Friday when the Trump administration's tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods took effect. There have been no confirmed high-level talks between to two sides since early an early June visit to Beijing by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that achieved no breakthroughs.
He directed Lighthizer to identify $200 billion in Chinese goods for tariffs if China retaliated against USA penalties that are meant to punish the country for intellectual property theft. It's an extensive list of over 6,000 goods that include seafood, propane and toilet paper, among many other things.
"The Chinese side is shocked by the actions of the USA", a statement on the ministry's website declared. Tesla is among companies hit by an additional 25 percent in import duties, imposed by Beijing in retaliation to a tariff hike by the Trump administration.
The additional tariffs could affect as much as $468bn in trade between the two countries, with the possibility of an ever more expansive levies that US President Donald Trump threatened to impose on China.
Washington made a decision to impose the extra tariffs after efforts to negotiate a solution to the dispute failed to reach an agreement, senior administration officials said on Tuesday.
They account for a major portion of the US agricultural exports to China.
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Rajiv Biswas said "For China, the USA is its largest export market, accounting for 19% of total Chinese exports".
In a statement US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said these new additional tariffs are a result of "China's retaliation and failure to change its practices" after the first round of tariffs.
"China is showing no signs of backing down and instead looks like it is preparing for a drawn out conflict", said Scott Kennedy, deputy director of China studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
Members of Congress are increasingly questioning Trump's aggressive trade policies, warning that tariffs on imports raise prices for consumers and expose US farmers and manufacturers to retaliation overseas.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, of Utah, called the new levies "reckless" and not "targeted".
United States officials will hold hearings in late August on the list of targeted products and an administration official said it would take about two months to finalise, at which point Trump would decide whether to go ahead with the levies.
"The behavior of the U.S. is hurting China, hurting the world, and hurting itself", the ministry said in a statement, adding that it was "shocked" by USA actions. That would leave China only US$80 billion for further retaliation.