A former official at the U.S. Treasury department says the current tariff war between the United States and China is a threat to the global supply chain. (April 4)
WASHINGTON – The U.S. slapped tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese imports on Monday, ratcheting up ongoing trade tensions between the world’s two largest economic powers.
In a statement, President Donald Trump announced he has directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to impose the new tariffs in response to what he said are unfair trade practices by China.
“As president, it is my duty to protect the interests of working men and women, farmers, ranchers, businesses, and our country itself,” Trump said. “My administration will not remain idle when those interests are under attack.”
The tariffs, announced after financial markets in the U.S. closed, will take effect on Sept. 24 and will initially be set at a rate of 10 percent. That rate will jump to 25 percent on Jan. 1.
The announcement means the Trump administration has now levied duties on a total $250 billion worth of Chinese goods – roughly half of the Chinese-made products shipped into the U.S. – as part of a broader dispute involving complaints about Beijing’s trade practices.
China has retaliated by placing duties on an equal dollar amount of U.S. goods and threatened retaliatory tariffs on another $60 billion in U.S. products in response to the Trump administration’s latest actions.
If that happens, Trump said he would impose tariffs on another $267 billion of Chinese imports. If he follows through with that threat, virtually every product imported into the U.S. from China would be subject to a tariff.
U.S. officials said they remain open to discussions with China to resolve the trade dispute but warned that China must be willing to change its ways and refrain from unfair trade practices, including theft of U.S. technology and intellectual property.
China reportedly was planning to send one of its top economic officials to Washington later this month in an attempt to jump-start the talks. It was unclear whether the Chinese would be willing to go ahead with that meeting after the latest round of tariffs.
“For months, we have urged China to change these unfair practices and give fair and reciprocal treatment to American companies,” Trump said. “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. But, so far, China has been unwilling to change its practices.”
China has had many opportunities to fully address U.S. concerns, Trump said.
“Once again, I urge China’s leaders to take swift action to end their country’s unfair trade practices,” he said. “Hopefully, this trade situation will be resolved, in the end, by myself and President Xi of China, for whom I have great respect and affection.”
The tariffs are the latest volley in a tit-for-tat trade war that started over the summer, when the U.S. imposed a 25 percent duty that affected $34 billion in Chinese imports, including farm equipment, motor vehicles, medical equipment and products made of aluminum and steel.
China responded by slapping an extra 25 percent duty on 545 products from the United States, including soybeans, electric cars, orange juice, whiskey, salmon and cigars.
Trump then suggested another round of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. In July, U.S. Trade Representative’s office of product lines that it would potentially be impacted, including fish and other foods, handbags, luggage and wood products used in construction.
At a series of hearings held last month, scores of U.S. companies and groups representing the bridal industry, candle makers, handbag designers, bicycle-parts distributors and others implored the Trump administration not to go forward with additional tariffs.
The administration received more than 6,000 written comments and heard testimony from more than 350 witnesses, many of whom argued that new tariffs would be catastrophic for their businesses.
After reviewing the comments, the administration said it had agreed to remove more than 300 product lines from the list and exempt them from the latest round of tariffs.
The exempted products include certain electronic consumer products, such as smart watches and Bluetooth devices; certain chemicals for manufactured goods, textile and agriculture; and certain health and safety products, such as bicycle helmets, rubber and plastic gloves, and child-safety furniture such as highchairs, car seats and playpens.
Still, trade analysts warned that the latest round of tariffs would hit a broad range of consumer goods and would be felt especially hard by low- and middle-income Americans.
“The Trump administration’s latest round of tariffs on imports from China are a direct tax on millions of working American families,” said Daniel Griswold of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. “The tax revenue the president brags about raising will come straight from the pockets of the people he claims to represent.”
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