Sat, Jun 16, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Trump announces tariffs targeting Chinese goods

UPPING THE ANTE:Washington has also completed a list of tariffs on an additional US$100 billion of imports, as it expects Beijing to respond to the initial wave in kind


Women interact near a robot designed by Chinese robotics company Pangolin at the Consumer Electronics Show Asia 2018 in Shanghai, China on Friday. President Donald Trump is poised to hike the price of Chinese-made flat-screen TVs and ultrasound machines for American buyers.

Photo: AP

US President Donald Trump yesterday announced 25 percent tariffs targeting US$50 billion of Chinese imports, making good on a pledge to punish the alleged theft of US intellectual property.

The announcement was sure to spark countermeasures by Beijing, which yesterday vowed to strike back quickly if the US hurts its interests, bringing the world’s two largest economies to the brink of an all-out trade war long feared by markets and industry.

However, Trump said in a statement that “additional tariffs” could be levied should China hit back with tit-for-tat duties on US goods and services exports.

“The United States can no longer tolerate losing our technology and intellectual property through unfair economic practices,” Trump said in the statement. “These tariffs are essential to preventing further unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China, which will protect American jobs.”

The US would begin collecting the tariffs on July 6 on a slimmed-down product list of Chinese goods worth US$34 billion that excludes TVs and other consumer products, the Office of the US Trade Representative said.

The revisions removed 515 items from an initial list published in early April following a public comment period, bringing the list to 818 product lines.

However, the office is adding a second tranche of 284 product lines worth US$16 billion that would bring the total back up to the initial target of US$50 billion.

Trump’s China trade offensive is only one side of his multifront trade confrontation with all major US economic partners.

Trump outraged Canadian, Mexican and European leaders last month by imposing punishing tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum to protect US producers from allegedly unfair competition.

The Trump administration was yesterday also due to release a finalized list of Chinese goods that would face the tariffs.

Washington has also completed a second list of possible tariffs on another US$100 billion of Chinese goods, in the expectation that China will respond to the initial US tariff list in kind, sources said.

US officials have said Beijing has sought industrial dominance in emerging technologies through the theft of American know-how through forced technology transfers, hacking and other forms industrial espionage.

“If the United States takes unilateral, protectionist measures, harming China’s interests, we will quickly react and take necessary steps to resolutely protect our fair, legitimate rights,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) told a regular news briefing.

China has published its own list of threatened tariffs on US$50 billion of US goods, including soybeans, aircraft and cars, and has said it would hit back if Washington follows up with further measures.

Beijing and Washington have held three rounds of high-level talks since early last month that have yet to yield a compromise, with Trump unmoved by a Chinese offer to buy an additional US$70 billion of US farm and energy products and other goods, people familiar with the matter have said.

“The threshold to come to a consensus or a compromise seems high,” JPMorgan Asset Management chief market strategist for Asia-Pacific Tai Hui (許長泰) said.

Trump’s revised tariff list might exclude some consumer items from an earlier proposal to focus more on goods related to Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” program, Eurasia Group said in a report.

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