Trump ratchets up tariff talk as key week looms for trade

Sean Reid
September 18, 2018

The escalation of Trump's tariffs on China comes after talks between the world's two largest economies to resolve their trade differences produced no results.

The latest round of imports will face 10 percent tariffs through the end of the year, and then the rate will jump to 25 percent.

Then last month, the escalating trade war moved up a gear when the U.S. brought in a 25 percent tax on a second wave of goods worth $16b.

"If the USA 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.

China no longer can match United States tariffs on a dollar-for-dollar basis, since it imports only US$135 of American products.

U.S. businesses - which have warned that tariffs could hurt profits, force job cuts, and, in some cases, destroy companies, said the taxes were going to hurt the United States more than the administration realized.

"China, however, still refuses to change its practices and indeed recently imposed new tariffs in an effort to hurt the United States economy", Trump said. Chinese news reports have quoted a former finance minister as saying Beijing can disrupt American companies' operations by imposing "export controls" if it needs more leverage in its mounting tariff dispute with Washington.

President Trump announced Monday that he is ordering 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China.

The World Trade Organization, to which both the US and China are parties, has a complaints process that can allow the imposition of tariffs if the party claiming unfair trade proves its point, and the offending nation doesn't change its policies.

So far, China has either imposed or proposed tariffs on $110 billion of US goods, representing most of its imports of American products.

"Apple prices may increase because of the massive Tariffs we may be imposing on China - but there is an easy solution where there would be ZERO tax, and indeed a tax incentive".

Multiple media reports in recent days cite officials saying Trump had chose to press ahead with tariffs on $200 billion in goods as soon as Monday. "Start building new plants now", he tweeted on September 8.

The U.S. Treasury had invited Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping's top economic adviser, to attend talks in Washington this week.

Consumer safety products made in China, such as bicycle helmets sold by Vista Outdoor and baby vehicle seats and playpens from Graco Inc also were taken off the list.

"I urge China's leaders to take swift action to end their country's unfair trade practices".

"But, so far, China has been unwilling to change its practices", he said. "I think it's going to work out very well with China", he said.

The U.S. Trade Representative's office eliminated 297 product categories from the proposed tariff list, along with some subsets of other categories.

If tariffs are imposed on the cranes, it could cost the port an additional $10m and put the port infrastructure at risk, Reinhart had testified in Washington in August at hearings on the tariffs.

The tariff duel is causing companies that rely on Chinese factories to rethink their business relationships, said Craig Allen, president of the US-China Business Council. But 2018 imports from China through July were up almost 9 percent over the same period of 2017, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. American officials also worry they might erode USA industrial leadership.

With 50 days to go before crucial mid-term elections and many in Trump's own Republican party are queasy about Trump's trade wars, which have drawn loud objections from senior figures within the party. The US is trying to negotiate a new North American trade deal even as it threatens to impose national security tariffs on imported automobiles, especially those from Europe.

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