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Trump aggravates trade war with China, imposes 25pc tariffs

June 16, 2018

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In this file photo, a buyer selects grocery items at an Asian store in Fairfax, Virginia. More Americans are shopping at Asian stores which are dominated by Chinese products.
In this file photo, a buyer selects grocery items at an Asian store in Fairfax, Virginia. More Americans are shopping at Asian stores which are dominated by Chinese products.

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump imposed on Friday a 25 per cent tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods, further aggravating the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

China has already warned that it will cancel its recent trade deals with the United States if these additional tariffs were imposed. The Trump administration had announced early this month that it plans to do so.

In a message released by his office, President Trump said that the new tariffs will apply to the goods that “contain industrially significant technologies.” He said the tariffs were “essential to preventing further unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China, which will protect American jobs.”

US Customs and Border Protection will begin to collect tariffs on the first $34bn worth of Chinese imports on July 6. A second set of imports subject to tariffs is still under review.

In the first week of June, the White House had set a June 15 deadline for announcing the full list of items that will see a tariff imposed, focusing on aerospace, robotics and machinery. The list released on Friday includes some 1,100 Chinese products.

“My great friendship with President Xi of China and our country’s relationship with China are both very important to me. Trade between our nations, however, has been very unfair, for a very long time,” said Trump while explaining why he was imposing additional tariffs.

“This situation is no longer sustainable. China has, for example, long been engaging in several unfair practices related to the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology,” he said.

China has warned that it could also impose similar tariffs on US products like sorghum, soybeans, meat and whiskey to airplanes and cars. China buys $14bn worth of soybeans every year — nearly a third of the US crop.

On March 22, the US Trade Representative’s office had published a list of China’s unfair practices related to the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology. Such practices “harm our economic and national security and deepen our already massive trade imbalance with China,” Trump said.

He said the additional tariffs will also apply to goods related to China’s Made in China 2025 strategic plan to dominate the emerging high-technology industries that will drive future economic growth for China.

These emerging industries hurt economic growth for the United States and many other countries, said Trump, adding that the United States could no longer tolerate losing its technology and intellectual property through unfair economic practices.

The tariff will also serve as an initial step toward bringing balance to the trade relationship between the United States and China,” he said.

Trump threatened to enforce more tariffs on Chinese goods if “China engages in retaliatory measures” or takes “punitive actions against American exporters or American companies operating in China.”

He also listed the punitive actions that he believes China could take, such as imposing new tariffs on United States goods, services, or agricultural products; raising non-tariff barriers.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2018