"I hate to do this, but behind that there is another $267 billion ready to go on short notice if I want", Trump said. USA officials say that violates China's free-trade commitments and worry it might erode American industrial leadership.
The tariffs would potentially hurt U.S. companies that import everything from handbags to bicycle tires.
The deadline for public comment on the next wave of punitive taxes on $200 billion of annual imports from China expired Thursday, so Trump could impose the tariffs immediately. The U.S. imported US$505 billion of Chinese products in 2017, Census Bureau figures show.
President Trump is digging into protecting the American worker against China by considering additional tariffs on $267 billion in Chinese imports. And China has vowed to hit $60bn in U.S. products in retaliation.
The trade war the president has initiated between the world's two largest economies stems from concerns that China has deployed predatory tactics - including cyber-theft - to try to supplant America's technological supremacy.
A truck transports a container next to stacked containers at a port in Zhangjiagang in China's eastern Jiangsu province.
Trump has had Beijing in his crosshairs since he took office, and has applied increasing pressure to try to convince it to change its policies, allow more imports and reduce the US$335-billion USA trade deficit with China. An announcement on the tariffs is expected as early as Friday. He has pointed to the large USA trade deficit - the gap between US imports and exports - with the People's Republic as a sign of that imbalance.
Retailers had successfully kept high-profile consumer electronics such as mobile phones and television sets off of previous tariff lists. "These are taxes and they're going to find their way into the pocket book of folks around the country", French said. The administration has asserted that Trump's tariffs would force China to trade on more favorable terms with the United States.
Major technology company Apple Inc (AAPL.O) said a "wide range" of its products would be hit by the tariffs, but not its iPhone.
The United States has demanded that China better protect American intellectual property, cut its US trade surplus, allow USA companies greater access to its markets and roll back its high-technology industrial subsidy programs.
"We are still talking with China on a number of issues".
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow just hours before said talks with Beijing were continuing to try to defuse the conflict, and that he was hopeful that a solution could be found.
"It's never too late to make good trade policy", Kudlow said.