Wednesday, July 11, 2018
WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's administration pushed ahead with plans to impose tariffs on an additional $200 billion in Chinese products by releasing a list of targets, marking a sharp escalation in a trade war between the world's two largest economies.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative proposed 10 percent tariffs Tuesday on a list of 6,031 Chinese lines covering a wide range of consumer products, such as televisions, clothing, bedsheets and air conditioners.
If the tariffs proposed Tuesday go into effect, duties implemented by the administration aimed squarely at China will cover nearly half of all U.S. imports from the Asian nation.
That could happen after public consultations end on Aug. 30, according to a statement from the office. The proposed list of goods includes consumer items such as clothing, television components and refrigerators as well as other high-tech items, but it omitted some high-profile products like mobile phones.
Tuesday's announcement included a 205-page public notice and list of the individual products that could be hit by the new tariffs.
The move sent markets skidding in Asia as Chinese stocks tumbled and the yuan weakened. The Shanghai Composite Index was down 1.6 percent as of 10:57 a.m. Shanghai time, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slid 1.4 percent. The yuan dropped 0.31 percent to 6.6613 per dollar.
The U.S. said it had no choice but to move forward on the new tariffs after China failed to respond to the administration's concerns over unfair trade practices and Beijing's abuse of American intellectual property, according to two senior officials who spoke to reporters. High-level talks between the two countries starting in May failed to deliver a breakthrough to head off a trade war.
The administration said the new levies are a response to China's decision to retaliate against the first round of U.S. tariffs.
"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," Robert Lighthizer, head of the trade office, said in an emailed statement. "Unfortunately, China has not changed its behavior -- behavior that puts the future of the U.S. economy at risk. Rather than address our legitimate concerns, China has begun to retaliate against U.S. products. There is no justification for such action."
China's Commerce Ministry described the U.S. move as "totally unacceptable" and said it will be forced to retaliate. The statement on its website today didn't give details of what retaliatory measures it plans to take.
The U.S. is acting "irresponsibly," Li Chenggang, assistant minister at the Commerce Ministry, told reporters on the sidelines of a forum in Beijing co-hosted with the City of Chicago.
The move drew immediate condemnation from Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who called it "reckless" and not "targeted."
"We cannot turn a blind eye to China's mercantilist trade practices, but this action falls short of a strategy that will give the administration negotiating leverage with China while maintaining the long-term health and prosperity of the American economy," he said.
The initial U.S. tariff list focused on Chinese industrial products in an attempt to limit the impact on American consumers. By expanding the list, the administration is beginning to hit products that U.S. households buy, including such things as electric lamps and fish sticks.
The Retail Industry Leaders Association, a lobbying group, said U.S. businesses and consumers will lose from the administration's trade battle. "American retailers and the families we serve barely had time to process the barrage of tariffs implemented last week," Hun Quach, the organization's vice president of international trade, said in a statement. "Now, we will need to grapple with new tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of imports, which are bound to include even more consumer products and everyday essentials."
"Tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese products amounts to another multibillion-dollar tax on American businesses and families," said Scott Lincicome, a trade lawyer and senior policy analyst for the group Republicans Fighting Tariffs. "Given China's likelihood of retaliation, it's also billions worth of new tariffs on American exporters."
The Trump administration on Friday imposed 25 percent duties on $34 billion in Chinese imports, the first time the president has implemented tariffs directly on Beijing after threatening to do so for months. The first round of tariffs covered Chinese products ranging from farming plows to machine tools and communications satellites.
China immediately retaliated with duties on the same value of U.S. goods, including soybeans and cars.
In addition, the U.S. is considering separate duties on a further $16 billion in Chinese goods, after a public hearing later this month. China has vowed to retaliate dollar for dollar.
The International Monetary Fund has warned that a full-blown trade war could undermine the broadest global upswing in years. But Trump hasn't backed down, arguing that China's unfair trading practices are hurting American workers.
Information for this article was contributed by Jenny Leonard, Andrew Mayeda, Enda Curran and Miao Han of Bloomberg News; by Paul Wiseman of The Associated Press; and by David J. Lynch, Danielle Paquette and Damian Paletta of The Washington Post.
A Section on 07/11/2018
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