Monday 10 December 2018

China responds in kind after US proposes 25% tariffs on Chinese imports

The latest US move heightened trade tensions with China.

China US Trade
China US Trade

By Paul Wiseman, Associated Press

China has raised tariffs on 50 billion dollars of US goods including soybeans, aircraft and cars in response to Washington’s increased duties on Chinese goods in a technology dispute.

The commerce ministry criticised the US move, describing it as a violation of global trade rules and said China was acting to protect its “legitimate rights and interests”.

It said a 25% tariff would be imposed and the date the charges will take effect would be announced later.

The dispute stems from US complaints that Beijing pressures foreign companies to hand over technology in return for market access.

Companies and investors worry the conflict could dampen worldwide commerce and set back the global economic recovery.

Earlier, the Trump administration escalated its aggressive actions on trade by proposing 25% tariffs on 50 billion dollars-worth (£27 billion) of Chinese imports.

The Office of the US Trade Representative issued a list targeting 1,300 Chinese products, including industrial robots and telecommunications equipment. The suggested tariffs would not take effect right way: A public comment period will last until May 11, and a hearing on the tariffs is set for May 15.

Companies and consumers will have the opportunity to lobby to have some products taken off the list or have others added.

The latest US move heightened trade tensions with China, which on Monday had slapped taxes on three billion dollars-worth of US products in response to earlier US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

“China’s going to be compelled to lash back,” warned Philip Levy, a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and an economic adviser to President George W Bush.

The administration sought to draw up the list of targeted Chinese goods in a way that might limit the impact of the tariffs – a tax on imports – on American consumers while hitting Chinese imports that benefit from Beijing’s sharp-elbowed tech policies. But some critics say that Americans will end up being hurt.

China US Trade

“If you’re hitting 50 billion dollars in trade, you’re inevitably going to hurt somebody, and somebody is going to complain,” said Rod Hunter, a former economic official at the National Security Council and now a partner at Baker & McKenzie LLP.

Even representatives of American business, which have complained for years that China has pilfered US technology and discriminated against US companies, were critical of the administration’s latest action.

“Unilateral tariffs may do more harm than good and do little to address the problems in China’s (intellectual property) and tech transfer policies,” said John Frisbie, president of the US-China Business Council.

Even some technology groups contending directly with Chinese competition expressed misgivings.

“The Trump administration is right to push back against China’s abuse of economic and trade policy,” said Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation think tank. “But imposing tariffs on producer goods will inadvertently hurt Americans through reduced capital investment and lower productivity growth.”

Press Association

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