Published On: Wed, Jul 11th, 2018

Trump targets Chinese products worth $200bn, escalates trade war

Washington: US President Donald Trump has escalated his trade war with China, saying he would impose additional 10 per cent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese fish, petroleum, chemicals, handbags, textiles and other products if Beijing does not change its trade practices.

The US has unveiled the list of tariffs in an escalating manner

China on Wednesday expressed “shock” and solemn protest against Washington’s announcement of fresh tariffs, calling it “totally unacceptable”.

Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Tuesday released a list of thousands of additional goods that could face tariffs after a public comment period. The move comes just days after the two countries imposed tit-for-tat tariffs of $34 billion on each other’s goods.

Washington said the new 10 per cent tariffs are in retaliation to Beijing’s response to the first set of taxes imposed by the US administration, CNN reported.

“The US has unveiled the list of tariffs in an escalating manner. This is totally unacceptable, and we express our solemn protest against this,” said China’s Commerce Ministry in a statement. It warned that China would have to respond with “necessary countermeasures”.

“The action from the US is hurting China, hurting the whole world and also hurting the US itself,” it was cited as saying by Xinhua news agency.

“China is shocked by what the US did. To defend the core interests of the nation and the fundamental interests of the people, the Chinese government will, as always, be forced to take necessary countermeasures.

“In the meantime, we appeal to the international community to jointly defend free trade rules and the multilateral trade regime and fight trade bullying,” the spokesperson said.

China said it will “immediately lodge an additional complaint with the World Trade Organization over the unilateral acts of the US”.

The US is already working on a second wave of tariffs on Chinese goods worth $16 billion. The tariffs announced on Tuesday would be the third wave. They would go into effect after August 30.

Washington’s latest action will hit more than 6,000 items that include consumer products like televisions, clothing, bedsheets and air conditioners, which were spared from the first import levies.

“Rather than address our legitimate concerns, China has begun to retaliate against US products,” Lighthizer said. “There is no justification for such action.” However, the US remains willing to engage in negotiations with China, he added.

Senior Trump administration officials said that so far, the two sides haven’t gotten anywhere. “They continue to insist the problems we’ve identified are not real problems,” said a senior official.

Tuesday’s announcement met backlash from some quarters. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch called it “reckless”, adding that the tariffs were “not a targeted approach”.

The National Retail Federation, an industry group, warned about the impact on prices from the new measures.

Asian stock markets fell sharply as investors shunned risk amid escalating trade tensions. In China, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 1.6 per cent, while the Shanghai Composite fell 2 per cent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index shed 1.2 per cent.

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