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The Packer reports:

The U.S. is taking comments on a proposal to ramp up tariffs from 10% to 25% on a wide swath of Chinese imports, including fresh garlic and other fruits and vegetables.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said President Trump directed him on June 18 to identify $200 billion worth of Chinese goods for additional tariffs at a rate of 10%, in response to China's decision to cause further harm to U.S. workers, farmers, and businesses by imposing retaliatory duties on U.S. goods.

However, he said President Trump now has asked him to consider increasing the proposed level of the additional duty from 10% to 25%. The list of Chinese imports included in the proposed tariff increases is available online.

The comment period on the proposal will close Sept. 5.

Affected fresh Chinese imports include garlic, onions, apples, cauliflower and broccoli.

The U.S. and China have been trading shots in a trade dispute since April, when the Trump administration imposed tariffs on Chinese steel, aluminum and other goods because of what Trump has called China's unfair practices on technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation.

China on July 6 hit U.S. imports of apples, pears, oranges, grapes, cherries and other commodities with a 25% duty, adding to an earlier 15% retaliatory tariff on the same items.

The USDA in late July said the administration is working on a three-pronged approach to help growers hurt by the retaliatory tariffs. The plan includes direct payments from row crop and livestock producers, commodity purchases for nutrition programs and trade promotion funds.

Some California Congressional leaders, however, are critical of the plan. The Sacramento Bee reported several California Republican and Democrat members of Congress wrote a letter July 31 expressing concern to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue that retaliatory tariffs on exports were hurting California communities and asking the agency to provide more support to specialty crop growers, who won't necessarily be helped by the programs in the tariff relief plan.

Todd Fryhover, president of the Wenatchee-based Washington Apple Commission, said the apple industry is waiting on more details of the government relief plan, with sources indicating hard information is still weeks away.

"They are hoping to have the package outlined and available for discussion around Labor Day," Fryhover said.

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