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You're tariffed! Trump announces $200 billion tariffs on Chinese goods

18 September, 2018, 10:45 | Author: Lawrence Cooper
  • The Donald Trump administration is for the first time publicly planning for a trade spat that drags into 2019 and possibly beyond

President Donald Trump threw his biggest punch yet at China, imposing tariffs on an additional US$200 billion ($305b) worth of Chinese imports and gambling that American consumers are willing to pay more for popular products to wring trade concessions from Beijing.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that the US plans to impose 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods in the coming days and they will take effect within weeks.

Mr Trump's economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, earlier said they were still happy to talk: "We are ready to negotiate and talk with China anytime they are ready for serious and substantive negotiations", he said. American officials also worry they might erode US industrial leadership. But the White House said last week it could go ahead and impose tariffs on a further $267 billion of Chinese trade if it retaliates again.

William Zarit, the chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in China, said in a statement that China will be able to "dig its heels in", preventing a short-term resolution to the trade war, and "no one will emerge victorious from this counterproductive cycle".

Mr Kudlow declined to specify details of the expected announcement but noted that reports indicating Mr Trump would unveil 10 per cent duties on $200 billion in imports as soon as Monday were "more or less correct".

"If the United States launches any new tariff measures, China will have to take countermeasures to firmly ensure our legitimate rights and interests", foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a regular press briefing on Monday.

Chinese imports from the United States grew by nearly 500 percent over the past five years, such that as of 2017 Chinese buyers accounted for almost one in every five dollars in U.S. export revenue. S. dollar since mid-June, offsetting the 10 percent tariff rate by a considerable margin.

However, this latest round is the biggest to date, and unlike the earlier rounds this latest list targets consumer goods, such as luggage and furniture. But it is unclear whether Beijing will agree to come to Washington with the new tariffs set to go into effect.

"It appears that the administration responded to some industry concerns, but for many American businesses and consumers this still represents a rapid acceleration of costs and much higher uncertainty", said Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council.

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The tough talk follows reports China is deliberately reducing exports to the USA by slowing down customs approvals and stepping up environmental and other inspections.

USA companies have already said they are anxious about the effect of higher costs on their businesses.

Trump also has complained about America's massive trade deficit - $336 billion past year - with China, its biggest trading partner. Instead, we are now awaiting China's retaliation.

Trump has reversed decades of USA policy in favor of ever-freer trade.

The statements come as relations between the U.S. and China appear to strain.

Some domestic manufacturers of bikes and accessories support the latest round of tariffs, especially in light of the March tariffs on steel and aluminum, which benefitted their competitors who imported complete products.

Through July, the USA ran a US$233.5b trade deficit in goods trade with China, an 8 per cent increase compared with the same period in 2017.

In theory, the tariffs will make US-made products cheaper than imported ones, and so encourage consumers to buy American.

While economists generally estimate that the tariffs will have little impact on the overall United States economy, they have warned that the effects are hard to predict. Some companies are looking to move out of China to dodge the tariffs, said Ted Murphy, a partner at the Baker McKenzie law firm.

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