The move towards imposing US tariffs on Chinese goods follows negotiations between USA and Chinese officials centered on increased purchases by Beijing of American farm and energy commodities and cutting the USA trade deficit with China.
If implemented, the tariffs will dent economic growth on both sides of the Pacific, analysts say.
On Thursday, US Soybean futures fell over 9 cents amid renewed trade tensions.
Trump no longer believes that Beijing's influence over North Korea is a compelling reason to ease up on trade talks now that his administration has opened up a direct line of communication with the nuclear-armed country, [an] administration official said.
The International Trade Commission, an independent federal agency, is expected to recommend later this year whether to move forward with the tariffs.
The move towards activating U.S. tariffs follows negotiations between USA and Chinese officials centred on increased purchases by Beijing of American farm and energy commodities and cutting the United States trade deficit with China.
It remains unclear when Trump will activate the tariffs if he decides to do so.
China has published its own list of threatened tariffs on $50 billion in US goods, including soybeans, aircraft, and autos, and has said it would hit back if Washington followed up with further measures.
At the daily briefing here, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, "If the USA side adopts unilateralism and protectionism and damages China's interests, we will respond in the first instance and take necessary measures to firmly safeguard our legitimate rights and interests".
Trump told Fox News in an interview aired on Wednesday that he was "very strongly clamping down on trade" with China.
The decision on the Chinese tariffs comes in the aftermath of Trump's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
This person also said Ross had said the list would take aim at products for which China supplied 33 percent or less of total USA imports in individual product categories, making it easier to shift to other countries' supplies.
Beijing has threatened to impose tit-for-tat charges on U.S. goods if Trump goes ahead, with cars, planes and soybeans believed to be on its list. The affected products are expected to be similar to a preliminary list that USTR released in early April. But he signaled that whatever the implications, "I have to do what I have to do" to address the trade imbalance. Many warned that the tariffs would increase costs and raise prices for consumers.
Spain's newly appointed agricultural minister, Luis Planas, also opposed the tariff's impact, saying it is unjust. Chinese officials have said they would drop agreements reached last month to buy more United States soybeans, natural gas and other products.
Asked how strong, Trump said: "Well, I think very strongly".
Trump did not specifically mention the tariffs and added that he had "a very good relationship with President Xi (Jinping) of China".
"The US-China trade conflict appears to be entering a new and potentially damaging phase", Chief Asia Economist Tom Orlik wrote in a note.
The US wants China to stop practices that allegedly encourage transfer of intellectual property - design and product ideas - to Chinese companies, such as requirements that foreign firms share ownership with local partners to access the Chinese market.
By June 30, the administration plans to announce investment restrictions and "enhanced export controls" for Chinese "persons and entities related to industrially significant technology", according to a White House statement last month.