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Former Trump adviser thinks 25 percent China tariffs are fine, but wants an expanded list

August 28, 2018

Former Trump trade adviser Dan DiMicco not only supports a 25 percent tariff on $200 billion in China goods, as contemplated by the Trump administration, he wants the president to go further.

DiMicco, head of the Coalition for a Prosperous America, says the administration should consider levies on services that have intellectual property components, as well as the addition of computer software, “a key part of China’s commercial and industrial strategy,” to the list. DiMicco, in comments on the additional $200 billion under consideration (also signed by Coalition CEO Michael Stumo), says he supports the step-up “as necessary to bring further pressure on China to halt its wrongful practices.” DiMicco was a trade adviser to candidate Trump and once was CEO of the Nucor steel company. His organization focuses on trade policy issues, with an emphasis on deficit reduction.

He also is a member of USTR's Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

The group, in joining thousands of others (2,300 comments posted so far, and the docket remains open) reacting to the threatened next round of Section 301 tariffs, takes umbrage at what it calls China’s “failure to change behavior.” DiMicco had previously taken issue with the outline of an agreement that was said to involve commitments to “substantially reduce” the U.S. trade deficit with China. At the time, he said those commitments were on the “wrong track.”

Now, amid the welter of comments that in significant part urge the administration to soften its position, DiMicco’s group wants more. Chinese retaliation for tariffs already imposed under Section 301 proves that a 10 percent levy “is not yet enough to cause the country to change its behavior,” he writes. China remains defiant, the filing says, indicating “every intention of sticking to ... norms” that include “protectionist-shielded markets. They are unrepentant about their aggressive economic nationalism and will keep to the same model they have followed since well before joining the WTO in 2001.”

The bottom line for the coalition: Endorse the 25 percent tariff proposal; include all proposed tariff lines; add computer software to the list; and consider levies for services with intellectual property components.

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