Trump imposes 25 per cent duties on $50bn worth of Chinese goods

Billions in new tariffs signal start of US-China 'trade war'
As China, U.S. move closer to trade war, Minnesota ag interests fret
Author

18 June, 2018

The United States has almost completed a second list of tariffs on $100 billion in Chinese goods, as President Donald Trump prepares to enact an initial round of duties that is expected to trigger an in-kind response from Beijing, several sources said.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Friday the United States would begin collecting duties on 818 Chinese imports valued at $34 billion as of July 6.

Top among American products hit by China's duties are agricultural exports, with soybeans, sorghum, oranges, pork, poultry and beef included in the US$34 billion in goods targeted for higher border taxes starting next month.

"We grow more than we can use [domestically]", said Blue Earth County corn and soybean farmer Kevin Paap, president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau. By May, the cost of laundry equipment had jumped 17 percent from two months earlier, according to government data.

The "Made in China 2025" initiative is aimed at accelerating China's prowess and narrowing its competitiveness gap with the United States and other industrial powers in key technologies such as robotics and semiconductors.

The goods covered in the new US tariffs on China include "goods related to China's Made in China 2025 strategic plan to dominate the emerging high-technology industries that will drive future economic growth for China, but hurt economic growth for the United States and many other countries".

The Trump administration has identified multiple ways Beijing steals US technology and undermines USA access to the Chinese market, which are the basis for the new tariffs.

The government said it was responding in "equal scale" to Trump's tariff hike on Chinese goods in a conflict over Beijing's trade surplus and technology policy that companies worry could quickly escalate and chill global economic growth.

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U.S. 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. "We are assessing the impact these tariffs and any reciprocal action could have on our supply chain and commercial business", said Boeing spokesman Charles Bickers.

The U.S. duties are meant to punish China for abusing American intellectual-property rights. And it uses Chinese government money to outbid private companies for USA technology at above-market prices. From July 6, additional tariffs will be levied on some 34 billion U.S. dollars worth of Chinese products. "Instead, the administration is asking USA agriculture producers to take a hit when they can least afford it", Heitkamp said. "We deeply regret that the United States has disregarded the consensus it has formed and flip-flopped, provoking a trade war".

"The mentality of the Trump team is a little unusual", said Andrew Polk, co-founder of research firm Trivium China in Beijing. But Trump has attacked head-on, threatening to disrupt Chinese exports.

"America can no longer tolerate losing its technology and intellectual property through unfair economic practices", he said.

China stated that if Washington imposed further tariffs in response, they too would take corresponding measures.

USA allies have been exasperated by Washington's refusal to negotiate exemptions for steel and aluminum tariffs and the issue boiled over at a meeting of the Group of Seven industrial nations earlier this month where Trump was left isolated. "The lobstermen obviously are concerned with trade and where they go".

Trump's tariffs did gain some support from an unlikely source, U.S. Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer, who called them "right on target".


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