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Trump to unveil China tariff list this week, targeting tech goods

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The Trump administration will, this week, unveil the list of Chinese imports targeted for US tariffs to punish Beijing over technology transfer policies, a move expected to intensify trade tensions between the world's two largest economies.

Washington

THE Trump administration will, this week, unveil the list of Chinese imports targeted for US tariffs to punish Beijing over technology transfer policies, a move expected to intensify trade tensions between the world's two largest economies.

The list of US$50 billion to US$60 billion worth of annual imports is expected to target "largely high-technology" products and it may be more than two months before tariffs take effect, administration officials have said.

The US Trade Representative's (USTR) office needs to unveil the list of products by Friday under President Donald Trump's China tariff proclamation signed on March 22.

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The tariffs are aimed at forcing changes to Chinese government policies that USTR says results in the "uneconomic" transfer of US intellectual property to Chinese companies.

The agency's "Section 301" investigation authorising the tariffs alleges that China has systematically sought to misappropriate US intellectual property through joint venture requirements, unfair technology licensing rules, purchases of US technology firms with state funding and outright theft.

On Monday, Beijing slapped extra tariffs of up to 25 per cent on 128 US products including frozen pork, as well as wine and certain fruits and nuts in response to steep US tariffs on imports of aluminium and steel announced last month by the Trump administration.

Fears have arisen that the two countries will spiral into a trade war that will crush global growth.

US technology industry officials said they expected the Trump administration's list to target products that benefit from Beijing's "Made in China 2025" programme, which aims to upgrade the country's domestic manufacturing base with more advanced products.

The state-led programme targets 10 strategic industries for replacing imports with Chinese-made products: advanced information technology, robotics, aircraft, shipbuilding and marine engineering, advanced rail equipment, new energy vehicles, electrical generation equipment, agricultural machinery, pharmaceuticals and advanced materials.

"Foreign technology acquisition through various means remains a prime focus under Made in China 2025 because China is still catching up in many of the areas prioritised for development," USTR said in its report justifying the tariffs.

Reports that the tariff list may also include consumer goods such as clothing and footwear drew strong protests from US business groups, which argued that it would raise prices for US consumers.

While there have been contacts between senior members of the Trump administration and their Chinese counterparts since Mr Trump announced his intention to impose tariffs, there has been little evidence of intensive negotiations to forestall them.

"The administration is following the Japan model from the 1980s," said a tech industry executive. "They will publish a Federal Register notice of tariffs on certain products, then try to reach a negotiated settlement over the next 60 days." REUTERS