Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Tuesday released a list of thousands of additional goods that could face 10% tariffs after a public comment period.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., July 6, 2018.
The USTR said the latest action was in response to Beijing's failure to change its policies and its retaliatory duties. He said the politicians respond, "Please, leave it the way it is".
"It's already past the point of no return", said Pauline Loong, managing director at research firm Asia-Analytica in Hong Kong. The Trump administration has tried to limit the impact of the trade war on consumers and any backlash that it might prompt, but the scale of these tariffs make it next to impossible to protect them.
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Although the trade war obviously remains front and centre in the minds of investors, another factor at play is the nagging worry that Trump may want to pull the US out of NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) - a move that would represent a fundamental upheaval in the global order, and have a huge impact on markets.
The ministry said it "solemnly protests" the latest tariff list published by Washington, calling it "totally unacceptable".
Head of United States equity strategy at JP Morgan, Dubravko Lakos-Bujas, said: "Despite trade headlines, S&P 500 companies should deliver robust earnings on above-trend revenue growth and sharply higher margins".
"Rather than address our legitimate concerns, China has begun to retaliate against United States products ..." "The U.S. side ignored the progress, adopted unilateral and protectionist measures, and started the trade war". He also alluded to "other countries" with trade barriers against the U.S.in his criticism. "Consumers, businesses and the American jobs dependent on trade, are left in the crosshairs of an escalating global trade war", said Hun Quach, the head of worldwide trade policy for the group. Only about 1% of the items on the list were consumer goods. That's why Trump can slap tariffs on them just because he feels like it.
The additional USA tariffs, which will go through a two-month approval process including a public hearing, come after China retaliated in a tit-for-tat trade skirmish last week.
So far Republicans in Congress have been more talk than walk on trade.
"Unfortunately, China has not changed its behavior - behavior that puts the future of the US economy at risk", he continues.
Although the looming elections provide an immediate concern for Trump, a trade war poses a more existential concern for Xi, whose Communist Party has built its legitimacy on economic success.