Multiple reports in recent days cited officials saying Trump had chose to press ahead with new tariffs, but at a lower rate of 10 percent after initially announcing they should be hiked to 25 percent in light of China's alleged intransigence.
If China then slaps tariffs on another $60 billion in United States goods, this will bring total United States exports subject to Beijing's retaliation to $110 billion, at 2017 sales levels.
It brings all Chinese imports subject to added tariffs to $250 billion, roughly half of China's shipments to the U.S. previous year.
At the White House on Monday, he said the USA trade gap with China-the net between imported and exported goods between the two countries-was too large, and "We can't do that anymore". "It is hard to see what the administration's vision of an endgame might be other than total capitulation by China to all USA demands". For all of Trump's talk of a deal he also makes clear he loves tariffs and the power he wields to impose them.
The President's decision threatens to upend the possibility of a diplomatic breakthrough with Chinese negotiators.
But several preliminary rounds of talks have yielded no agreement, and Trump has said he was in no hurry to settle the dispute. The White House had no immediate comment on Monday.
Mr Trump's economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, earlier said they were still happy to talk: "We are ready to negotiate and talk with China anytime they are ready for serious and substantive negotiations", he said. USA manufacturers are having to pay more for parts and equipment, thereby putting them at a competitive disadvantage to foreign rivals.
Initial reaction from the business community Monday was unfavourable. However, without these tariffs, we will be facing an unfair disadvantage.
The green light for the tariffs initially dragged US stocks lower, fueling drops in the Chinese yuan in offshore trading and gains in the dollar index. The administration is targeting a bewildering variety of products - from sockeye salmon to bamboo mats - forcing USA companies to scramble for suppliers outside China, absorb the import taxes or pass along the burden to their customers. The USTR said consumer electronics including as smartwatches, industrial chemicals, safety products, and child safety furniture like high chairs were exempted.
Stocks fell Monday as markets braced for major escalations in the US-China trade war. He has not been satisfied with the talks with China on this. "That's good news. At least we did something", he said.
"The president's negotiating tactics do not work well with China's way of thinking", said Sung Won Sohn, chief economist at SS Economics in Los Angeles. "There's no way around it". While individual companies have complained about their operations being disrupted by material shortages or cost increases, growth remains strong and unemployment is approaching a half-century low. Rather, they sought to contain and mitigate them within a system based on the overwhelming economic dominance of the US.
Trump Monday said he would soon reach new deals with United States trading partners that would reverse the offshoring trend of the past generation. "The businesses are going to pour back into the United States. A lot of money coming in". "And product will start being made here again".
Trump also threatened to inflict more economic pain in the form of additional tariffs if Beijing takes any retaliatory action. The move allowed United States steel producers to increase prices, raising costs for companies that buy steel and pressuring them to cut back elsewhere. Both countries have already slapped levies on $50 billion of each other's exports.
"Tariffs have put the U.S. in a very strong bargaining position, with Billions of Dollars, and Jobs, flowing into our Country - and yet cost increases have thus far been nearly unnoticeable", Trump said.