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President Trump Continues To Ratchet Up Trade War With Other Countries


President Trump is ramping up trade tensions with other countries. Today, he said he's ready to impose even more tariffs on Chinese imports, and he hinted that he may take similar action against Japan. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: The United States has already imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of goods from China, which then retaliated with tariffs of its own. The Trump administration is now preparing to impose another $200 billion worth of tariffs. And speaking to reporters on Air Force One, the president said he was willing to launch a third round of tariffs if necessary.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And - I hate to say this - but behind that...

ZARROLI: There's another $267 billion ready to go on short notice if I want. That changes the equation, the president said. Such a move would mean a huge ratcheting up of the trade war with China. Chad Bown is a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

CHAD BOWN: It seems like President Trump's intention is to impose tariffs on everything we import from China as quickly as he possibly can.

ZARROLI: Previous tariffs have hit a lot of intermediate goods that go into products manufactured by U.S. companies. But Bown says the kind of tariffs Trump is talking about would be much broader.

BOWN: So this would be the list that covers iPhones and toys and laptops and clothing and footwear - and a lot of things that people buy at Target or Walmart. And so consumers are going to start to see this in terms of higher prices at the checkout counter.

ZARROLI: Trump then turned to Japan, saying he was in talks with the country about trade. He said, if we don't make a deal, Japan knows it's a big problem. These threats appear to be a bargaining ploy, an effort to put pressure on Beijing and Tokyo. For its part, China has already threatened to retaliate once more if the U.S. goes ahead with further tariffs. Mid-level officials from the two countries met in Washington recently, but there was no evidence of a resolution. Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANTIBALAS' "SI, SE PUEDE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jim Zarroli is an NPR correspondent based in New York. He covers economics and business news.