China hikes tariffs on United States soybeans, electric cars, fish


The U.S. will implement a 25-percent tariff on goods worth $50 billion from China that "contain industrially significant technologies", according to a statement by the White House.

The list is meant to minimize the impact on USA consumers and businesses by selecting goods where there are ample alternative supplies from other countries.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association, while praising the Trump administration for dropping an earlier plan to place levies on key equipment and machinery used by the industry, said China's retaliatory measures could harm American farmers and textile manufacturers and add costs to the industry's supply chain.

They will target the Chinese aerospace, robotics, manufacturing and auto industries. China vowed to retaliate immediately and said the United States had "launched a trade war". ZTE's fate had become entwined in the trade talks.

China has pledged any tariffs will void progress made in recent trade talks between Beijing and Washington and has drawn up its own list of $50 billion in USA goods to target.

"China has, for example, always been engaging in several unfair practices related to the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology".

The move represents a serious escalation of trade tensions between the world's two largest economies - just as Trump has also picked fights with allies Canada, Mexico and the European Union over steel and aluminum.

The Global Times, a tabloid run by the People's Daily, called the USA move "an irresponsible act on behalf of the White House to disrupt worldwide trade just to appeal to American voters who are convinced their president is fighting for them".

"President Trump is fixated with tariffs, which he believes he can wield freely; but there are grave consequences to the use of tariffs", said AAFA president Rick Helfenbein.

After the two countries threatened each other with tariffs since March, in mid-May they both announced a ceasefire after two rounds of trade negotiations.

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"In this trade war, it's the USA who is playing the role of provocateur, while China plays defense", said the Global Times, a newspaper published by the ruling Communist Party. "He adds: "'There is no trade war. This includes stepped-up USA "freedom of navigation" maneuvers in the South China Sea, sending U.S. naval vessels through waters claimed by China, and sales of arms to governments with longstanding conflicts with Beijing.

Trump faces competing objectives in pursuing a North Korean deal while seeking comprehensive economic concessions from China, which might loosen economic pressure on Pyongyang if Washington presses too far.

And while the USA media attacked Trump for allowing China to emerge as the "winner" from that summit, there is clearly a fear in Beijing that it will lose influence over North Korea.

The U.S.' trade deficit with China was $347 billion in 2016.

As countries can not have formal ties with both Beijing and Taipei, which would mean "two Chinas", most recognize Beijing, including the US. The United States now dominates those industries, but Chinese government support could make it hard for US companies to compete. "It interferes with China's internal affairs and negatively impacts China-US relations".

Trump's expansion of unilateral trade action goes well beyond recent actions from the United States.

American consumers and businesses have taken the tariffs in their stride and the growing economy has brought in more workers, pushing unemployment down to levels not seen since the 1960s.

On Friday, the unorthodox Republican president reiterated that he is unafraid of a trade war - for him, the war is already lost when a country posts a massive trade deficit, so it can not get worse.

"It is an extremely unsafe and provocative strategy", says Alden.