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US doubles time for public comment period on China tariffs

The U.S. will hold a 60-day public comment period following the release of the list of products it intends to target with 25% tariffs on Chinese imports, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told CNBC on March 28.

Lighthizer said in the interview that the tariffs will be on "about" $50 billion worth of Chinese imports, which he said will be "largely high tech things." The agency has until April 6 to publicly release its recommendations of Chinese imports to be subject to the tariffs.

"We'll announce them before very long," Lighthizer said. "We'll then go through a 60-day period where we'll give the public a chance to comment on the good and bad things in there."

President Donald Trump signed a memorandum March 22 instructing Lighthizer's office to publish a list of products to target for increased tariffs of 25% by April 6. The administration had originally planned for a 30-day public comment period before publishing the final list, senior administration officials said during a briefing with reporters March 22. Lighthizer's latest remarks show a doubling of that period, giving time for further negotiations between the U.S. and China.

Lighthizer said in the CNBC interview that "there is hope" that talks between the two countries could help China avoid the tariffs.

Trump has said the tariffs could target a number of high technology and other products of up to $60 billion, in part to reduce the $375.2 billion goods trade deficit the U.S. runs with China.

However high the value and however many products are targeted, the selections are likely to be met with resistance from American companies. Numerous industries, including footwear, apparel and other consumer products makers, have already expressed concern through statements as well as letters to Trump urging him not to target their sectors with tariffs on Chinese imports.

The tariffs stem from a Section 301 investigation recently completed by Lighthizer's office, which found that China was forcing the transfer of technologies of American companies operating in China as a cost of doing business there, as well as China's imposing of restriction on U.S. firms' investments and activities.

The trade representative's office did not return a request for comment on March 29.