China unveils list of potential retaliatory tariffs on United States goods

24 March 2018, 12:33 | Isaac Mcdaniel

China unveils list of potential retaliatory tariffs on United States goods


"China doesn't hope to be in a trade war, but is not afraid of engaging in one", the Chinese commerce ministry responded in a statement.

"If a trade war were initiated by the US, China would fight to the end to defend its own legitimate interests with all necessary measures", it said. That was in addition to the metals duties ordered earlier this month on China and other countries. Fears of a trade war have sent jitters through global markets. The restrictions will target 1,300 Chinese products, everything from shoes and clothing to electronics.

The Chinese list also included close to 80 fruit and nut products. The USTR will announce the proposed list in the next "several days", according to the fact sheet.

In applying the steel and aluminum tariffs, Trump's main concern is that China has for years overproduced steel and aluminum, depressing prices globally and causing job losses in other countries, like the US but also in Europe.

Trump said he respected his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping but Washington "would no longer tolerate running a trade deficit of almost $400 billion with China", its second-largest trading partner, after the EU.

Washington reports a trade deficit with China of $375 billion.

Despite the timing of its response, China's Commerce Ministry did not label the measures a direct retaliation for Thursday's broadside from the Trump administration. As a result, China's pork prices are now hovering around 10 yuan ($1.58) per kg, their lowest level in almost four years and already squeezing demand for imports.

"China does not want a trade war with anyone".

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"There is genuine systemic risk", said Joseph Francois, the managing director of the World Trade Institute at the University of Bern, Switzerland.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, which says it will provide input to Washington's proposed tariffs on behalf of its 3,000 members, urged the Trump administration to "not to impose tariffs as its principal response" to China's trade practices while prodding Beijing to "take meaningful action" to facilitate free trade.

Trump's technology order is in response to "unfair and harmful acquisition of USA technology" said a statement by the USTR. The president then announced Thursday his intention to impose around $60 billion in trade penalties on China for intellectual property theft. "He has apparently miscalculated the situation and underestimated China's resolve and capability to defend its own legitimate rights and interests as well as the price the United States has to pay for its recklessness and willfulness", the spokeswoman noted. "I just worry if it gets really ugly, they may go for the nuclear option".

The tensions reflect the dueling nationalistic ambitions of Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. Trump said that the amount could be even bigger, at "about $60 billion".

European and U.S. trade officials said this week they were beginning talks to reach a compromise.

Senior White House economic advisor Everett Eissenstat said Thursday the new U.S. import duties would target sectors where "China has sought to acquire an advantage through the unfair acquisition or forced technology transfer from United States companies".

"The problem is that with the Chinese in this case, talk is not cheap".

Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters president Joy Nott also thinks higher prices for goods could encourage more Americans to shop in Canada.

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