Trump announces tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods
President Trump on Friday announced that the United States would impose tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese products, making good on a threat that has been months in the making.
The White House’s move is expected to ramp up trade tensions with Beijing and possibly risk a key cooperative partnership to help denuclearize the Korean peninsula.
“My great friendship with President Xi of China and our country’s relationship with China are both very important to me,” Trump said in a statement.
“Trade between our nations, however, has been very unfair, for a very long time. This situation is no longer sustainable,” he said.
China’s Commerce Ministry released a scathing statement expressing its firm opposition to the president’s move and accusing the Trump administration of being “fickle” and “provoking a trade war” by imposing massive tariffs on China.
“This move is not only damaging bilateral interests but also undermining the world trade order,” the statement said.
China said it would “immediately introduce taxation measures of the same scale and strength.”
“All the economic and trade achievements previously reached by the two parties will no longer be valid at the same time,” the statement said.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer released a list of 1,102 products that will be hit by the 25 percent tariff.
Lighthizer said the list “focuses on products from industrial sectors that contribute to or benefit from the “Made in China 2025” industrial policy, which include industries such as aerospace, information and communications technology, robotics, industrial machinery, new materials and automobiles.
The list does not include popular goods purchased by U.S. consumers such as cellphones or televisions, he said.
The first round of tariffs on 818 products worth $34 billion will go into effect on July 6, according to the US trade representative’s office (USTR). A second batch of 284 products valued at $16 billion will undergo further review.
“This includes goods related to China’s Made in China 2025 strategic plan to dominate the emerging high-technology industries that will drive future economic growth for China, but hurt economic growth for the United States and many other countries,” Trump said in the statement.
The president said the United States will pursue additional tariffs if China retaliates “such as imposing new tariffs on United States goods, services or agricultural products; raising non-tariff barriers; or taking punitive actions against American exporters or American companies operating in China.”
Chinese officials have said they would levy tariffs on U.S. products if Trump acted on his threat to impose steep tariffs.
“We must take strong defensive actions to protect America’s leadership in technology and innovation against the unprecedented threat posed by China’s theft of our intellectual property, the forced transfer of American technology, and its cyber attacks on our computer networks,” Lighthizer said.
The plan faced immediate backlash from major business groups.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue said that “imposing tariffs places the cost of China’s unfair trade practices squarely on the shoulders of American consumers, manufacturers, farmers and ranchers. This is not the right approach.”
Dean Garfield, president and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) said “tariffs are the wrong answer to China’s ongoing discriminatory and damaging trade practices.”
“We urge President Trump to reassess the approach, engage in real negotiations with China and work with allies to change Chinese policies,” Garfield said.
USTR said it will set up an exemption process for some U.S. companies that import items from China covered by the additional duties.
Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill continued to express concerns about the White House’s tariff plans.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), whose panel oversees trade, said “my message has been consistent: we need to hit our target, which is China and its deceptive and harmful trading practices.”
“But I am concerned that these new tariffs will instead hurt American manufacturers, farmers, workers and consumers,” Brady said.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said that while he wants to see action against China “ill-conceived trade actions that weaken the American economy, alienate allies and invite retaliation against American businesses, farmers and ranchers, undermine our nation’s ability to successfully confront China’s unfair trade policies.”
But the Senate’s top Democrat backed Trump’s decision to levy the hefty tariffs.
New York Sen. Charles Schumer said “the president’s actions on China are on the money.”
“China is our real trade enemy, and their theft of intellectual property and their refusal to let our companies compete fairly threatens millions of future American jobs,” Schumer said.
In March, Trump announced plans for at least $50 billion in tariffs over longstanding concerns about China’s unfair trade policies that required U.S. companies to transfer technology to China’s domestic businesses, as well as the theft of trade secrets.
Then in April, the administration provided a preliminary list of technology goods that the U.S. might target for tariffs.
The decision stems from the conclusions of a Section 301 investigation launched in August that found that China’s theft of intellectual property is costing the U.S. economy billions of dollars.
The U.S. has already imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum from a wide range of nations, including China.
–Updated at 8:56 a.m. and 9:20 a.m.
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