By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch
The document released Wednesday outlining a planned increase in tariffs on China makes clear the U.S. fury at a perceived backtracking on key positions.
“In the most recent negotiations, China has chosen to retreat from specific commitments agreed to in earlier rounds,” a Federal Register notice reads. “In light of the lack of progress in discussions with China, the President has directed the Trade Representative to increase the rate of additional duty to 25 percent.”
Those tariff increases, from 10% on roughly $200 billion of Chinese goods, are set to be implemented on Friday.
Reuters reported that China made what the news service called “systematic edits” to a nearly 150-page draft trade agreement , deleting commitments in each of the seven chapters. Those edits, the report said, were to the core of U.S. complaints about the existing relationship, including the theft of U.S. intellectual property, forced technology transfer and currency manipulation.
“Over the course of the last week or so, we’ve seen an erosion in commitments by China, I would say retreating from commitments that have already been made, in our judgment,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Monday.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday tweeted that the Chinese vice premier, Liu He, was coming to Washington “to make a deal,” adding “we’ll see” and his happiness with tariffs.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, asked by a reporter about the source of Trump’s tweet about the Chinese willingness to make a deal, repeated her boss’s assertion without providing evidence. “Look, we’ve gotten an indication that they want to make a deal,” she told reporters outside the White House. “Our teams are in continued negotiations and they’re going to sit down tomorrow, and we’ll see what happens from there.”
For its part, China said it would retaliate if slapped with additional tariffs, but it didn’t describe how.
The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with China was $378.6 billion in 2018, according to the U.S. Trade Representative.
U.S. stocks /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.16% /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.12% /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -0.33% have been weighed down this week on the ratcheting up of China tensions, though the comment by Sanders briefly moved stocks higher on Wednesday.
U.S. stocks have enjoyed double-digit gains this year.