U.S., China announce tariff hikes

National News

September 18, 2018 - 10:58 AM

BEIJING (AP) — China today announced a tariff hike on $60 billion of U.S. 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 Trump’s penalties on $200 billion of Chinese goods.

The Finance Ministry said it was going ahead with plans announced in August for the increases of 10 percent and 5 percent on 5,207 types of U.S. 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 percent, beginning Monday. They are to rise to 25 percent on Jan. 1.

A Commerce Ministry statement earlier said 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 Trump’s tactics and warn the dispute could chill 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 materialize,” the chamber chairman, William Zarit, said in a statement.

Trump imposed 25 percent duties on $50 billion of Chinese products in July. Beijing retaliated with similar penalties on the same amount of American goods.

The U.S. 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 Trump in 2016.

Trump threatened Monday to add a further $267 billion in Chinese imports to the target list if China retaliates for the latest U.S. duties. That would raise the total affected by U.S. penalties to $517 billion — covering nearly everything China sells the United States.

“Contrary to views in Washington, China can — and will — dig its heels in and we are not optimistic about the prospect for a resolution in the short term,” said Zarit of the American Chamber of Commerce. “No one will emerge victorious from this counter-productive cycle.”

The chamber appealed to both governments for “results-oriented negotiations.”

As Beijing runs out of U.S. goods for retaliation, American companies say regulators are starting to disrupt their operations.

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