US to hold China tariffs hearing on June 17

Trucks line up to enter a shipping berth at the Port of Oakland in California on May 13, 2019. US President Donald Trump has proposed putting tariffs on another US$300 billion (S$411 billion) in Chinese goods. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP, REUTERS) - The United States will hold a public hearing on June 17 on President Donald Trump's proposal to put tariffs on another US$300 billion (S$411 billion) in Chinese goods, according to a document published on Monday (May 13).

The hearing is part of Mr Trump's escalating trade offensive against Beijing. If the tariffs are imposed, they would make virtually all Chinese imports to the US subject to steep, punitive duties.

The June hearing will involve 3,805 product categories that could be subject to tariffs of up to 25 per cent.

Final rebuttal comments are due seven days after the end of the hearing, the US Trade Representative's Office (USTR) said on Monday, marking a much shorter public comment period than previous rounds.

Initial tariffs on a US$200 billion list of Chinese imports received about 71 days of public scrutiny during the summer of 2018, versus as little as 42 days for the latest US$300 billion round of tariffs.

The comment period would likely be completed before Mr Trump goes to a Group of 20 leaders summit in Japan on June 28-29, where he said he will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping. The timing would allow him to be in a position to order the tariffs to be activated around that date.

Beijing on Monday fired its latest counter-salvo, raising tariffs on US$60 billion in US exports in retaliation for Mr Trump's decision to bump up duties on US$200 billion in Chinese exports.

But Mr Trump told reporters on Monday that he had not yet decided whether to proceed with the US$300 billion round.

"That is a tremendous amount of money that would come into our country," Mr Trump said, reiterating his belief that duties are paid by trade adversaries, not US importers and consumers.

"I have not made that decision yet."

Members of the public, such as diplomats, trade bodies and individuals, also have until the hearing date to submit written comments before officials finalise the list of goods that face duties of up to 25 per cent, according to the USTR.

US trade with China hit record levels last year, with US$540 billion in imports and US$120 billion in exports, according to the US Commerce Department.

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