USA proposes tariffs on $200 billion more in Chinese imports

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Mike Drew  Postmedia

China and the U.S. face a wider trade war, after Beijing vowed on Wednesday to retaliate over Washington's threat to impose $200bn in additional tariffs on Chinese goods.

Donald Trump is readying tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese imports, escalating a trade war between the world's two biggest economies.

President Donald Trump has threatened to tax as much as $US550 billion in Chinese products - an amount that exceeds America's total imports from China a year ago.

The tech sector, more broadly, will suffer from tariffs due to the nature and complexity of the global supply chain that it relies on.

China's government vowed Wednesday to take "firm and forceful measures" as the United States threatened to expand tariffs to thousands of Chinese imports like fish sticks, apples and French doors, the latest salvo in an escalating trade dispute that threatens to chill global economic growth.

"As in the past, the United States is willing to engage in efforts that could lead to a resolution of our concerns about China's unfair trade practices and to China opening its market to USA goods and services", he added.

The additional 6,031 product lines would be hit with a 10 percent tariff.

Trump has been considering tariffs against China since his officials concluded in March that Beijing violates United States intellectual-property rights, such as by forcing American firms to hand over technology.

In his statement, Lighthizer claimed that the United States has specially targeted those Chinese products that "benefit from China's industrial policy and forced technology transfer practices", and China's retaliation - from Washington's perspective - was "without any global legal basis or justification".

Last year, China only imported about $130 billion of US goods, so to retaliate it might increase the size of the tariffs it imposes or resort to what it calls "qualitative" measures, which USA businesses fear could mean reprisals against their China operations.

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The U.S. government said the new tariffs are in response to Beijing's June 15 tariffs on $50 billion in U.S. exports, which were themselves in retaliation for President Trump's initial tariffs against China. "As an industry that touches 96 percent of all manufactured goods and which has much to gain from a productive, respectful trading relationship with China, ACC and our members remain hopeful that the USA and China can resolve their differences and prevent further harm to US manufacturers, farmers, and consumers".

China's commerce ministry said on Wednesday it was "shocked" and would complain to the World Trade Organisation, but did not immediately say how it would retaliate.

China "cannot match fresh USA tariffs", Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank said in a report.

"For over a year, the Trump Administration has patiently urged China to stop its unfair practices, open its market, and engage in true market competition", Lighthizer said.

The tariffs initiated by U.S. President Donald Trump have also drawn criticism from lawmakers in his own Republican Party, as well as from U.S. trade groups anxious about higher costs for businesses and consumers.

'TARIFFS ARE TAXES' Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a senior member of Trump's Republican Party, said the announcement "appears reckless and is not a targeted approach".

'Tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese products amounts to another multibillion-dollar tax on American businesses and families, ' trade lawyer Scott Lincicome said. "It will also result in retaliatory tariffs, further hurting American workers", a Chamber spokeswoman said. "In part because they have only limited ammunition and in part because it's still early in the process on the USA side", Kuijs said.

"China's closest neighbors, namely Japan, Korea and Hong Kong, are most vulnerable to a U.S. -Sino trade war because they export mostly intermediate goods to China", OCBC said in a note.

China's exports have mushroomed since it joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001, making it the world's second-largest economy and prompting widening criticism in recent years from trading partners that it has unfairly used global trade rules to its advantage.

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