Trade war escalates as Trump imposes tariffs on $200bn of Chinese goods

19 Septembre, 2018, 03:59 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • An online video about US-China trade tensions produced by China's state television broadcaster plays in Beijing August 23

The widely voiced view among professional investors has been that the escalation of tariffs and tough trade rhetoric have been tactics aimed ultimately at lowering unfair trade barriers and protecting USA intellectual property.

In a combative series of tweets Trump, whose Republicans fear losing control of both houses of Congress in November, accused China of trying to broaden its retaliation into the electoral arena. It's an especially sensitive issue given the political maelstrom over alleged Russian meddling in the real estate tycoon's surprise 2016 presidential victory.

"China has openly stated that they are actively trying to impact and change our election by attacking our farmers, ranchers and industrial workers due to their loyalty to me", Trump said on Twitter. However, because of the trade imbalance between the United States and China, Beijing won't be able to continue matching Trump's tariffs.

Ross also said the USA was actively pursuing action against China through the World Trade Organisation (WTO), a process the secretary said was supported by Japan and the EU.

China's retaliatory tariffs, ranging from 5 per cent to 10 per cent on more than 5,000 items including items ranging from meat to wheat and textiles, will take effect on Sept 24, China's Ministry of Finance said in a statement posted on its website.

It has signalled it might target products manufactured in China that are critical to the supply chains of United States technology and manufacturing companies; products relatively low in value but not easily or readily available elsewhere.

Trump believes that his tearing up of the global trade rulebook is long overdue. "As such this is a real ratcheting up of trade tensions that certainly heightens the risks for global and United States growth".

"We have been very clear about the type of changes that need to be made, and we have given China every opportunity to treat us more fairly". "Once again, I urge China's leaders to take swift action to end their country's unfair trade practices".

The newest round of tariffs on Chinese imports signals that Trump has declared trade war on China, writes Oxford Economics chief US economist Gregory Daco in a Tuesday research note.

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The chamber on Tuesday warned a "downward spiral" appears certain after President Donald Trump approved a tariff hike on $200 billion of Chinese imports in a dispute over Beijing's technology policy.

However, if Trump expands the tariffs to an additional $267 billion worth of goods then almost every Chinese import would be affected, including the iPhone, along with all other smart phones.

Trump's comments came a day after he targeted another $200 billion in Chinese imports with tariffs starting next week, drawing an immediate vow of retaliation from Beijing.

Smart watches and Bluetooth devices were removed from the tariff list, along with bicycle helmets, high chairs, children's vehicle seats, playpens and certain industrial chemicals.

China's finance ministry said it will respond accordingly if the USA further increases tariffs.

The chip industry was also hit by the new levies.

"Tariffs have put the U.S. in a very strong bargaining position, with billions of dollars, and jobs, flowing into our country - and yet cost increases have thus far been nearly unnoticeable", Mr Trump said on Twitter.

Beijing will be forced to retaliate if the United States rolls out new tariffs against the country, ministry spokesman Geng Shuang was cited by Huanqiu.com as saying.

That could soften the blow to consumers and manufacturers among others ahead of the midterm elections.

The administration excluded smartwatches and other connected devices after Apple warned of a negative impact in a letter to the US Trade Representative.

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