Washington listed the items from China it proposes will be hit with an additional duty of 25% but within hours, Beijing hit back, announcing its own plans to levy a 25% tariff on U.S. imports that included beef, soybeans and whiskey.
Relations between the U.S. and China have become increasingly fractious with regard to trade.
But outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan said last week he would need a written agreement for the US Congress to approve a revamped trade pact this year, while Republicans still control the legislature - something that could change in November's midterm elections. Instead, Trump will likely continue upping the ante - betting on China preferring to come to an agreement rather than risk a trade war. Officials from Beijing are expected to arrive in D.C. armed with a list of items they will offer to import from the U.S.to meet that goal, The Wall Street Journal reported. Trump has proposed imposing tariffs on up to $150 billion in Chinese products.
The surprising overture to China marked a dramatic departure from Mr. Trump's rhetoric during the campaign, when he said he would no longer allow China to "rape our country" and steal U.S.jobs.
But he offered an olive branch in calling on USA officials to revisit penalties for Chinese company ZTE Corp. for flouting US sanctions on trade with Iran and North Korea.
Early this month, a high-level USA delegation - including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, top American trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer and White House adviser Peter Navarro - traveled to Beijing to address the trade dispute. "We want to see these things happen sooner than later", he said at a conference in Tokyo. "There's an economic channel, there's a law enforcement channel, there's a national security channel". "Obviously, this is part of a very complex relationship between the USA and China that involves economic issues, national security issues and the like".
"ZTE, the large Chinese phone company, buys a big percentage of individual parts from US companies". It's not clear, of course, if he's planning to really reverse it or think of a solution in a larger context.
The widening trade dispute between the world's two biggest economies has taken a toll on both sides.
Additionally, The Wall Street Journal (paywall)'s sources point to another possible result of USA leniency towards ZTE.
"We'd like to see China being just as open as the United States", he said. "It's possible, depending upon how the trade talks go".
Commerce Secretary Ross last month accused ZTE of misleading the department and warned: "This egregious behavior can not be ignored". "He has my support", Kudlow said, adding that no agreement had been reached yet.
The U.S. imposed the penalty on Shenzhen-based ZTE after finding that the company, which had already paid a $1.2 billion fine, not only failed to discipline employees that were involved, but paid them bonuses.