Citing unnamed officials, Bloomberg News reported on Friday that Trump had instructed staff on Thursday to proceed with tariffs on about $200bn more of Chinese goods.
The move was also reported by the Reuters news agency, which cited an unnamed source familiar with the decision. It said the timing for activating the additional tariffs was still unclear.
The reported green light for the tariffs had an immediate effect on financial markets.
It led US stocks to trade lower, fueled drops in the Chinese yuan in offshore trading and gains in the dollar index, and sent the S&P 500 index negative.
The reports come one week after Trump said he would be adding tariffs on $200bn in Chinese goods and had tariffs on another $267bn in Chinese imports “ready to go on short notice if I want”.
But the reported decision also follows an invitation by the US Treasury earlier this week to senior Chinese officials, including Vice Premier Liu He, for more talks to try to resolve trade differences between the world’s two largest economies.
Trump frequently criticised “unfair trade” between the US and China while on the campaign trail for the 2016 presidential elections. He maintained his criticism of Chinese trade practices since assuming office in January 2017.
The Trump administration imposed the first tariffs of $34bn on Chinese imports in July. China responded with equivalent duties on US goods.
Beijing has vowed further response if the US imposes new tariffs.
Drawn out talks and escalating tit-for-tat tariffs between the two economic superpowers have failed to yield substantial agreements.
Analysts have warned that a full-scale trade war between the two could cause setbacks for global markets.
The White House said on Friday that Trump “has been clear that he and his administration will continue to take action to address China’s unfair trade practices”.