Trade war escalates as China announces tariffs on US imports

Published September 19, 2018, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

BEIJING (AP) – The US-China trade war escalated further Tuesday, with China announcing retaliatory tax increases on $60 billion worth of US imports, including coffee, honey and industrial chemicals.

The increases are in response to the US announcing it will impose tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese-made goods starting next week. The tariffs will start at 10 percent, then rise to 25 percent on Jan. 1.

China’s Finance Ministry said its tariff increases are aimed at curbing “trade friction” and the “unilateralism and protectionism of the United States.”

There was no word on whether China would back out of trade talks it said it was invited to by the US, but a Chinese Commerce Ministry statement said the US increase “brings new uncertainty to the consultations.”

The two countries have already imposed import taxes on $50 billion worth of each other’s goods. President Donald Trump threatened to add an additional $267 billion in Chinese imports to the target list if China retaliated for the latest US taxes. That would raise the total affected by US penalties to $517 billion, covering nearly everything China sells to the United States.

The American Chamber of Commerce in China warned Tuesday that Washington is underestimating Beijing’s determination to fight back.

“The downward spiral that we have previously warned about now seems certain to materialize,” said William Zarit, the chamber’s chairman.

At the root of the trade war are US complaints about China’s plans to try to overtake US technological supremacy. Those plans include “Made in China 2025,” which calls for creating powerful Chinese entities to compete in robotics and other fields. The US says the plans are based on stolen technology, violate China’s market-opening commitments, and might erode American industrial leadership.

American companies and trading partners including the European Union and Japan have longstanding complaints about Chinese market barriers and industrial policy. But they object to Trump’s tactics and warn the dispute could chill global economic growth and undermine international trade regulation.

Trump has strained relations with potential allies including the European Union, Canada and Mexico by raising tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. He demanded Canada and Mexico renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement to make it more favorable to the United States.

Trump has also complained about America’s gaping trade deficit – $336 billion last year – with China, its biggest trading partner.

“China has had many opportunities to fully address our concerns,” Trump said in a statement. “I urge China’s leaders to take swift action to end their country’s unfair trade practices.”

The trade gap means China will run out of US imports to tax while the US still has plenty of Chinese imports to target. But Beijing has other ways to retaliate. American companies say regulators are already starting to disrupt their operations.

Last week, the American Chambers of Commerce in China and in Shanghai reported 52 percent of more than 430 companies that responded to a survey said they have faced slower customs clearance and increased inspections and bureaucratic procedures.

 
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