Trump had warned on Monday that if China takes retaliatory action against USA farmers or industries, "we will immediately pursue phase three, which is tariffs on approximately $267 billion of additional imports".
The latest US move could generate a tit-for-tat response from Beijing, which has said it would welcome new trade talks with Washington, but also suggested it would not engage in more negotiations if the USA imposed the tariffs.
How else to explain Trump ignoring more than 300 American companies who protested that imposing tariffs on $US200 billion ($277 billion) in Chinese consumer goods would hurt their business, and raise prices for USA consumers?
Chinese business magazine Caixin reported that JP Morgan chief China economist Zhu Haibin calculated the trade war would cost China 700,000 jobs and force USA and Chinese companies to move their factories out of China.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened further retaliation against China if Beijing targets U.S. agricultural or industrial workers amid a trade dispute, and accused China of trying to sway the U.S. election by targeting farmers.
While Trump says the tariffs will mean "a lot of money coming in to the coffers of the United States" they are really a tax on U.S. companies and consumers. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative charged in a March report that China is using predatory tactics to obtain foreign technology, including hacking U.S. companies to steal their trade secrets and forcing them to turn over their know-how in exchange for access to the Chinese market.
The duty will rise to 25 per cent in the new year, officials said.
Trump's move means that America will now have tariffs on roughly half of its imports from China (which totalled over $500bn last year).
In the letter sent earlier this month, Apple said a range of its products would be hit and warned that the proposed tariffs, which could lead to higher production costs, higher consumer prices and "lower overall USA economic growth, and other unintended economic consequences".
The products spared included consumer electronics like smart watches and Bluetooth devices, child safety products such as high chairs, vehicle seats and playpens, and certain health-and-safety products such as bicycle helmets, the officials said. It could offset the new tariffs by allowing it to drift lower, although further and significant depreciation would risk triggering an exodus of capital.
The iPhone was not among the "wide range" of products that Apple told regulators would be hit by the $200 billion round of tariffs in a September 5 comment letter to trade officials.
"Our concern with these tariffs is that the USA will be hardest hit, and that will result in lower U.S. growth and competitiveness and higher prices for United States consumers", Apple said in a letter.
Trump already has imposed 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods. As counterintuitive as it might seem, the president sees this fact as ultimately helping US workers.
The Trump administration is expected to spare three Apple products from the next round of tariffs, but escalating conflicts with China could still be a costly problem for the tech giant should a full-blown trade war ensue. "But at this time, everything the United States does does not give the impression of sincerity or goodwill", he added. "Start building new plants now", he tweeted on Sept 8.