New US tariffs in 'trade war' with China

Wendy Jensen
April 9, 2018

Mr Trump, in light of what he called China's "unfair retaliation" against earlier USA trade actions, had upped the ante on Friday (Thursday local time) by ordering United States officials to identify extra tariffs, escalating a tit-for-tat confrontation with potentially damaging consequences for the world's two biggest economies.

Storm clouds continue to form over farm country in the wake of President Trump's decision last month to slap a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum entering the United States; China's threat last month to impose a retaliatory 25 percent tariff on American products, including pork; and a series of back-and-forth announcements and threats between the Trump administration and China last week about tariffs on more products.

China responded to President Donald Trump's tariff threats releasing a list of 106 American exports that could face reciprocal taxes. The chief target was China, which answered with tariffs on USA pork, fruit and nuts.

But Chinese tariffs aren't the only ones that will hurt US companies - Trump's own import taxes could also be a self-inflicted wound.

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Trump on Thursday instructed the U.S. Trade Representative's Office to consider tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese imports, bringing to $150 billion the range of Chinese goods under consideration.

"Economic data and forecasts from the IMF, OECD, World Bank and others have been revised steadily upwards over the previous year, which would tend to indicate a sustained recovery of trade in 2018 following strong trade growth in 2017", Agah said. "But if someone insists on fighting a trade war, we will be there". When trade between the two countries falls, Chinese producers would nearly certainly suffer more than American ones.

Chinese state media yesterday denounced Mr Trump's latest threat, with nationalistic tabloid Global Times saying it reflected "the deep arrogance of some American elites in their attitude towards China".

Asked in an interview with NY station WABC about the effect on USA stock markets, Mr Trump said the market has gone up (since he took office) "so we might lose a little bit of it".

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There is still time for the president to step back from the precipice, but it will take his hearing from the people who voted for him, letting him know that they're the ones who stand to lose the most from his trade policy.

So far in the trade skirmish between the United States and China, there has been a reassuring sense of restrained, tit-for-tat reciprocity. The tariffs have not yet been implemented and the White House said it is open to negotiations with China, even though Beijing has been cool to talks. The US has a trade deficit of $375 billion with China and the ongoing trade war would undermine the interests of its farming community, technology companies, automakers, pharmaceuticals and aircraft manufacturers. The U.S. semiconductor industry relies on China for about a quarter of its revenue.

"There is a level of risk that we could get into a trade war", Mnuchin said in an interview with CNBC on Friday.

Some analysts have speculated the two countries could reach a detente before new tariffs take effect. Which is also, not likely.

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