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2017-08-09 — washingtonpost.com

A preliminary decision issued by the Commerce Department on Tuesday evening found that the products were receiving financial assistance from the Chinese government. It specifically levied "countervailing duties" on four Chinese companies, ranging from an 81 percent import tax on imports from two firms to a 17 percent tax on another. Chinese companies not specifically named face a duty of 22 percent on products they export to the U.S. market... The measure will cover the kind of aluminum foil commonly used in kitchens, as well as in product packaging, cookware and automobiles.

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The decision is a routine one, as the United States frequently sets duties on imports it believes are unfairly subsidized. But it takes on more importance now that the Trump administration is ratcheting up pressure on Chinese trade practices, said Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute.

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Trump spoke often on the campaign trail about cracking down on China's trade abuses. But in the initial months of his presidency, he appeared to be willing to cut the Chinese more slack on trade in exchange for help with diplomacy goals, such as pressuring North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

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In more recent months, however, the president appeared to abandon that strategy, while simultaneously ratcheting up trade pressure on Beijing. The Chinese "do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk," Trump tweeted July 30.

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The United States is also considering a separate trade measure against China under Section 301 of the 1974 trade law. This measure, which could come as soon as next week, would penalize the Chinese for theft of American intellectual property... . "If they can't reach a deal and the United States decides to move toward penalties, China would likely respond with retaliatory penalties as well as bring a case to the WTO."

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