WASHINGTON — President Trump has instructed the U.S. trade representative to consider slapping an additional $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods in a dramatic escalation of the trade dispute between the two countries.

The news from the White House came a day after Beijing announced plans to tax $50 billion worth of American products, including soybeans and small aircraft, in response to a U.S. move earlier this week to slap tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports.

The White House said Trump had instructed the Office of the United States Trade Representative to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate and, if so, to identify which products they should apply to. He has also instructed his secretary of agriculture “to implement a plan to protect our farmers and agricultural interests.”

“China’s illicit trade practices – ignored for years by Washington – have destroyed thousands of American factories and millions of American jobs,” Trump said in a prepared statement.

The latest escalation came after the U.S. said Tuesday that it would impose 25 percent duties on $50 billion of imports from China, and China quickly retaliated by listing $50 billion of products that it could hit with its own 25 percent tariffs. The Chinese list Wednesday included soybeans, the biggest U.S. export to China, and aircraft up to 45 tons in weight. Also on the list were American beef, whiskey, passenger vehicles and industrial chemicals.

U.S. officials have sought to downplay the threat of a broader trade dispute, saying a negotiated outcome is still possible. But economists warn that the tit-for-tat moves bear the hallmarks of a classic trade rift that could escalate. And already, tensions between the world’s two biggest economies have rattled global stock markets.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer called China’s moved “unjustified” and said Trump’s proposal was an “appropriate response to China’s recent threat of new tariffs.”

“Such measures would undoubtedly cause further harm to American workers, farmers, and businesses,” he said in a statement.

The clash reflects the tension between Trump’s promises to narrow a U.S. trade deficit with China that stood at $375.2 billion in goods last year and the development ambitions of China’s ruling Communist Party.

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