China Slaps Tariffs On $3 Billion Worth Of US Goods

Katie Ramirez
April 3, 2018

It is clear that the Trump administration is targeting perceived trade imbalances not only with China but with other Asian countries as evidence of the import tariffs on washing machines and solar products earlier in the year.

China has increased tariffs by up to 25 per cent on 128 U.S. products, from frozen pork and wine to certain fruits and nuts, escalating a spat between the world's biggest economies in response to USA duties on imports of aluminium and steel. The list was expected to target "largely high-technology" products and to take effect in two months' time.

China's Ministry of Commerce on Sunday announced tariffs on USA imports, largely agricultural products and metals, saying Beijing's interests "were seriously damaged" by Trump's March 22 decision to apply tariffs to imported Chinese steel and aluminum.

"Even though China and the US have not publicly said they are in a trade war, the sparks of such a war have already started to fly", the newspaper said.

The most recent move by China targets areas of farming in the USA, where many voted for Trump in the presidential election of 2016.

America's steel and aluminum tariffs were imposed after an investigation into the risks posed to US national security, an inquiry known as a "section 232 investigation".

Mr. Trump Twitted that "trade wars are good" and would be "easy" for the United States to win. The US President campaigned on a promise to reduce the US trade deficit.

On Sunday, April 1, Beijing imposed a steep tariff of upto 25 per cent on 128 American products including frozen pork and fruits after Washington put heavy tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel in March.

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"China's interests have been seriously damaged", the MOC said.

Major steel and aluminum exporters to the United States, from Canada, Mexico, European Union, South Korea, Australia, Brazil and Argentina, are finally exempted from the new U.S. tariffs for the time being.

Aircraft and soybeans were China's biggest United States imports by value previous year. Significant drops on the stock market have coincided with Trump's announcement of new tariffs, and the Dow fell 65 points this morning following news of China's retaliatory tariffs (and following Trump's Easter Sunday Twitter tirade against the North American Free Trade Agreement). That might be enough to push China to negotiate with Trump, but a trade war is unlikely to be as straightforward or as easy as Trump seems to think.

Last July, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin complained the Chinese government's dominant role in China's economy was to blame for its yawning trade surplus.

If the former failed to trigger a trade war with China, Trump seemed determined to get one started when he announced the latter on March 22.

Last month, a US official cited as "hugely problematic" Beijing's sweeping plan to create Chinese competitors in electric cars, robots, advanced manufacturing and other fields over the next decade. That list will then be open to a 30-day comment period for businesses.

The volleys of threats are "a process of game-playing to test each other's bottom lines", said Tu Xinquan, a trade expert at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing. The result will be the same: US consumers will pay more for the same products, Lin said.

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