Despite a brief window last month in which trade tensions between the U.S. and China seemed to have deescalated, said tensions have resumed apace in recent days.
On Friday, the U.S. announced the list of just over 1,100 products worth $50 billion that are targeted for a 25% duty in two stages (with the first, worth $34 billion, set to go into effect July 6). Then, on Monday, President Donald Trump directed the U.S. Trade Representative to identify an additional $200 billion in goods to be subjected to a 10% import tariff.
“I support the President’s action,” USTR Robert Lighthizer said in a prepared statement. “The initial tariffs that the President asked us to put in place were proportionate and responsive to forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft by the Chinese. It is very unfortunate that instead of eliminating these unfair trading practices China said that it intends to impose unjustified tariffs targeting U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses. At the President’s direction, USTR is preparing the proposed tariffs to offset China’s action.”
According to the USTR release: “USTR will announce the additional tariffs proposed and provide a similar legal process as the proposed tariffs announced on April 3, 2018 and which are now implemented. No additional tariffs will go into effect until the legal process is complete.”
The U.S. decision came on the heels of China’s announcement that it would impose retaliatory tariffs to counteract the $50 billion in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.
Unsurprisingly, China reacted negatively to the news.
“Such practice of imposing extreme pressure and blackmailing is contrary to the consensus the two sides have reached through rounds of consultations, and disappoints the international community,” a China Ministry of Commerce spokesperson said, as quoted by the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
“The trade war waged by the United States is against both the law of the market and the development trend of today’ s world. It undermines the interests of the Chinese and American people, the interests of companies and the interests of the people all over the world.”
The spokesperson added “that if the United States loses its rationality and unveils another list of Chinese products for additional tariffs, China will have no choice but to take comprehensive measures combining quantitative and qualitative ones to resolutely strike back,” according to the Xinhua report.
“China does not want a trade war, but it does not fear one,” said Geng Shuang, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, during a press briefing Tuesday, as quoted by Xinhua.