Monday 25 March 2019

China raises tariffs on $60 billion of US goods in technology fight

The American Chamber of Commerce in China warned Washington is underestimating Beijing’s determination to fight back.

(Andy Wong/AP)
(Andy Wong/AP)

By Joe McDonald, Associated Press

China has announced a tariff hike on $60 billion (£46 billion) of US products in response to President Donald Trump’s latest duty increase in a dispute over Beijing’s technology policy.

The announcement followed a warning by an American business group that a “downward spiral” in their conflict appeared certain following President Trump’s penalties on $200 billion (£152 billion) of Chinese goods.

The Finance Ministry said it was going ahead with plans announced in August for the increases of 10% and 5% on 5,207 types of US goods.

A list released last month included coffee, honey and industrial chemicals.

The increase is aimed at curbing “trade friction” and the “unilateralism and protectionism of the United States”, the ministry said on its website.

It appealed for “pragmatic dialogue” to “jointly safeguard the principle of free trade and the multilateral trading system”.

The Trump administration announced the tariffs on some 5,000 Chinese-made goods will start at 10%, beginning on Monday. They are to rise to 25% on January 1.

A Commerce Ministry statement earlier said President Trump’s increase “brings new uncertainty to the consultations” but there was no word on whether Beijing would back out of talks proposed last week by Washington.

The United States complains Chinese industry development plans including “Made in China 2025”, which calls for creating global champions in robotics and other fields, are based on stolen technology, violate Beijing’s market-opening commitments and might erode American industrial leadership.

American companies and trading partners including the European Union and Japan have longstanding complaints about Chinese market barriers and industrial policy.

But they object to President Trump’s tactics and warn the dispute could hit global economic growth and undermine international trade regulation.

The American Chamber of Commerce in China warned Washington is underestimating Beijing’s determination to fight back.

“The downward spiral that we have previously warned about now seems certain to materialise,” the chamber chairman, William Zarit, said in a statement.

President Trump imposed 25% duties on $50 billion (£38 billion) of Chinese products in July. Beijing retaliated with similar penalties on the same amount of American goods.

The US duties targeted Chinese goods Washington says have benefited from improper industrial policies.

Beijing’s penalties hit soybeans and other farm goods from states that voted for President Trump in 2016.

President Trump threatened Monday to add a further $267 billion (£203 billion) in Chinese imports to the target list if China retaliates for the latest US duties.

That would raise the total affected by US penalties to $517 billion (£393 billion) — covering nearly everything China sells the United States.

Press Association

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