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US Trade Rep. Lighthizer thinks more tariffs could be needed to get meaningful China concessions

Key Points
  • Robert Lighthizer has reportedly told friends and associates he is intent on preventing Trump from accepting "empty promises" like temporary increases in soybean purchases.
  • In order to avoid this, the U.S. may have to slap tariffs on more Chinese goods, Lighthizer has said, according to The New York Times.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer speaks during a meeting on trade held by U.S. President Donald Trump with governors and members of Congress at the White House on April 12, 2018 in Washington, DC.
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U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has warned President Donald Trump that additional tariffs on Chinese imports may be needed to get meaningful concessions in trade negotiations, according to The New York Times.

Lighthizer, who is taking the lead in trade negotiations with China, has told friends and associates he is intent on preventing Trump from accepting "empty promises" like temporary increases in soybean purchases, the newspaper said. In order to avoid this, the U.S. may have to slap tariffs on more Chinese goods, Lighthizer reportedly said.

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China and the U.S. have already slapped tariffs on billions of dollars worth of their goods. The U.S. has been trying to get China to agree to what it thinks are fairer trade terms through tariffs, while the Chinese have retaliated with charges of their own.

The report stoked fears in global equity markets of more tariffs between China and the United States. European markets were down broadly while U.S. stock futures also fell sharply. Dow futures pointed to a decline of more than 350 points. It also raised concern that the two countries may not be able to strike a deal before the end of the 90-day grace period that started Dec. 1.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

Click here to read the full New York Times story.

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