The Trump administration will impose tariffs on $200B more in Chinese goods starting next week, escalating a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies and potentially raising consumer prices ranging from handbags to bicycle tires (Sept 17)
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump accused China on Tuesday of seeking to interfere in the U.S. congressional elections by slapping tariffs on products from politically pivotal states, even though it was the president who instigated the latest fight by imposing $200 billion in new tariffs on Beijing.
“China has openly stated that they are actively trying to impact and change our election by attacking our farmers, ranchers and industrial workers because of their loyalty to me,” Trump tweeted.
China’s Finance Ministry said it increased tariffs on U.S. goods to fight back against “unilateralism and protectionism of the United States.” It appealed for “pragmatic dialogue” to “jointly safeguard the principle of free trade and the multilateral trading system,” in a statement on its website.
In the U.S. the tariff war with China threatens Republican candidates across the country, particularly in agricultural states. Exports to China account for about 60 percent of the overseas sales of American soybean farmers, who stand to lose sales as a result of China’s tariffs.
From Florida to Missouri to North Dakota – states that could cost Republicans control of the U.S. House, and possibly the Senate – voters have said that emerging tariff wars with Europe and China have raised their costs and prices.
The president made his political complaint a day after authorizing 10 percent tariffs on some $200 billion in Chinese goods – prompting China to say it will retaliate with new tariffs on about $60 billion worth of U.S. products.
As with previous tariff battles involving Europe as well as China, the Chinese are expected to target products from states that feature key congressional battles, from oranges in Florida to soybeans in Missouri and Iowa.
Despite concern in rural areas about tariffs, Trump argued that they are popular with working-class supporters who believe China has undercut American industry by unfair trade practices.
“What China does not understand is that these people are great patriots and fully understand that China has been taking advantage of the United States on Trade for many years,” he said in a pair of tweets. “They also know that I am the one that knows how to stop it.”
Trump also issued a counter-counter threat, saying “there will be great and fast economic retaliation against China if our farmers, ranchers and/or industrial workers are targeted!”
Trump repeated that threat while speaking with reporters at the White House, saying he is prepared to hit China with $276 billion in additional tariffs.
Trump also said that current tariffs are hurting China, and may make them more amenable to an agreement on trade rules between the two nations.
“We may make a deal at some point,” Trump said. “We are always open to talking.”
Trump’s embrace of tariffs goes against longtime Republican support for free trade. Some party members have criticized the president’s approach, saying tariffs amount to a tax on American consumers.
“Any time tariffs are imposed I worry that Americans will be forced to pay extra costs – in this case on nearly half of US imports from China,” said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota, facing a tough re-election battle in November, criticized Trump over the tariff issue.
“The reckless escalation of the administration’s trade war is having serious consequences for rural America, which is already suffering from the uncertainty and low commodity prices caused by the disruptions to our markets,” she said.
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