Friday 18 January 2019

China hits back at US with tariffs on imports

Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters
Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters

Erich Zann

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 aluminium and steel.

The tariffs, which took effect yesterday, were announced late on Sunday by China's finance ministry and matched a list of possible tariffs on up to $3bn (€2.4bn) in US goods published by China on March 23.

Soon after the announcement, an editorial in the 'Global Times' newspaper warned that if the United States had thought China would not retaliate or would only take symbolic counter-measures, 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 aluminium, would now be subject to additional tariffs of 25pc, it said, with the measures effective from yesterday.

"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 US, which has rocked global financial markets in the past week as investors fear a full-blown trade dispute between them will damage world growth.

US President Donald Trump is separately preparing to impose tariffs of more than $50bn (€40.5bn) on Chinese goods following an investigation under Section 301 of the 1974 US Trade Act.

The US administration says China has systematically misappropriated American intellectual property - allegations China denies.

Sometime this week, the Trump administration is expected to unveil a list of Chinese goods that could be subjected to new US tariffs.

US technology industry officials said they expected the list to target products that benefit from Beijing's "Made in China 2025" programme, which aims to upgrade the domestic manufacturing base with more advanced products.

China has repeatedly promised to open its economy further, but many foreign companies complain of unfair treatment. China warned the United States last Thursday not to open a Pandora's Box and spark a flurry of protectionist practices across the globe.

Irish Independent

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