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Independent.ie

Monday 20 August 2018

China hits US goods with tariffs as 'sparks' of trade war fly

China has increased tariffs by up to 25pc on 128 US products, from frozen pork and wine to certain fruits and nuts, escalating a dispute between the world’s biggest economies in response to US duties on imports of aluminum and steel.

The tariffs, which took effect from yesterday (Monday), were announced late on Sunday by China’s finance ministry and matched a list of possible tariffs on up to $3 billion in US goods published by China on March 23.

Soon after the announcement, an editorial in the widely read Global Times newspaper warned that if the United States had thought China would not retaliate or would only take symbolic countermeasures, it could “say goodbye to that delusion”.

“Even though China and the US have not publicly said they are in a trade war, the sparks of such a war have already started to fly,” the newspaper said.

The Ministry of Commerce said it was suspending its obligations to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to reduce tariffs on 120 US goods, including fruit and ethanol. The tariffs on those products will be raised by an extra 15pc.

Eight other products, including pork and scrap aluminum, would now be subject to additional tariffs of 25pc, it said, with the measures effective starting April 2.

“China’s suspension of its tariff concessions is a legitimate action adopted under WTO rules to safeguard China’s interests,” the finance ministry said.

China is moving swiftly with retaliatory action amid escalating trade tension with the United States, which has rocked global financial markets in the past week as investors fear a full-blown trade dispute between the two economic superpowers will damage world growth.

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In response to China’s move, Washington said Beijing’s subsidies and overcapacity were behind the action on steel.

“Instead of targeting fairly traded US exports, China needs to stop its unfair trading practices which are harming US national security and distorting global markets,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in a statement.


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Reuters

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