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WASHINGTON: The White House announced on Tuesday that it will impose 25 per cent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, as US President Donald Trump pledged to end China’s unfair trade practices.

The final list of these products will be announced by June 15 and the tariffs will go into effect shortly after. China has already pledged to retaliate against the 25pc tariffs.

The investment restrictions and additional measures to curb Chinese acquisition of “industrially significant” technology will be announced by June 30.

A White House fact-sheet, released with the announced, claimed that the United States has run a trade in goods deficit with China for years, including a $375 billion deficit in 2017 alone.

“From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair and to be reciprocal,” said Mr Trump in a statement released with the fact-sheet.

Last week, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Trump administration would stand down on imposing tariffs while the two sides continued negotiations to avoid a trade war. He also said that imposing tariffs now will ratchet up tensions just before Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is set to arrive in Beijing this week for further talks.

But on Tuesday, the White House accused China of pursuing unfair industrial policies and trade practices – including dumping, discriminatory non-tariffs barriers, forced technology transfer, over capacity, and industrial subsidies.

Such practices “champion Chinese firms and make it impossible for many US firms to compete on a level playing field,” the White House said.

According to this fact-sheet, in 2018 alone, the Trump Administration found dumping or unfair subsidies on 13 different products, including steel wheels, cold-drawn mechanical tubing, tool chests and cabinets, forged steel fittings, aluminum foil, rubber bands, cast iron soil pipe and fittings, and large diameter welded pipe.

In January 2018, the Trump Administration found that China’s overproduction of steel and aluminum, and the resulting impact on global markets, threaten America’s national security. “China imposes much higher tariffs on US exports than the United States imposes on China,” the White House complained.

The White House also pledged to continue a WTO case it started in March on accusations that China’s intellectual property practices violate international trade law.

The White House said the restrictions followed a seven-month US investigation into China’s handling of data and intellectual property, which wrapped up in late March. The investigation determined that Beijing commits intellectual property theft and forces foreign companies to hand over valuable data in order to operate in the Chinese market and compete with domestic firms.

In early April, the White House had released a list of $50bn worth of products it would target with tariffs. The list does not include everyday items like cellphones and clothing but included cars, some home appliances and an assortment of electronics.

In less than 24 hours, China responded with a $50bn list of its own, which heavily targeted agricultural and chemical products. Beijing has vowed to impose tariffs on these products soon after the US does.

The White House claimed that China’s intellectual property theft alone costs US innovators billions of dollars a year, and China accounts for 87 per cent of counterfeit goods seized coming into the United States.

The White House fact-sheet also said that recent investigations by the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) identified four of China’s aggressive technology policies that put 44 million American technology jobs at risk, including forced technology transfer; requiring licensing at less than economic value; Chinese state-directed acquisition of sensitive United States technology for strategic purposes; and outright cyber theft.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2018