The Trump administration is getting ready to step up its trade war with China.

Starting Monday, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, or USTR, will hold six days of public hearings where close to 360 CEOs and American trade and industry representatives are expected to testify, mostly against a new 25 percent tariff on approximately $200 billion in Chinese goods. This would be the third action taken against Chinese imports, following a 25 percent tariff on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods that started on July 6 and another one on $16 billion in products expected to begin August 23.

Unlike the previous two rounds, which focused largely on Chinese industrial machinery and electronic components, this next one would directly impact thousands of consumer products, Reuters reports. The list targets products from furniture and makeup to bicycles and child car seats. The duties on Chinese imports are a response to allegations of intellectual property theft and other unfair trade practices.

China responded by announcing its own set of retaliatory tariffs on $50 billion worth of American goods, targeting soybeans, electric vehicles, and more, starting on the same dates as the U.S. tariffs. In addition to driving prices higher, many U.S. businesses believe a trade war will not effectively address the IP theft problem.

"Tariffs are hidden, regressive taxes that are being paid by U.S. businesses and consumers, paradoxically harming U.S. competitiveness," the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in a written testimony ahead of the hearings. "The USTR's proposed tariffs on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports dramatically expands the harm to American consumers, workers, businesses, and the economy."

Those testifying include entrepreneur and designer Rebecca Minkoff, as well as representatives for FitBit, iRobot, and the Internet Association, whose members include Google, Amazon, and Facebook. The U.S. and China are also expected to hold lower-level trade talks later this week, though it is unclear whether these talks could put a damper on the proposed tariffs. 

Published on: Aug 20, 2018