This Morning in Metals: USTR to Consider Tariff Rate Bump on $200B China Import List

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This morning in metals, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer released a statement regarding the news of a potential increase in the tariff rate on the previously proposed list of $200 billion worth in Chinese goods, China responds and Secretary of Commerce downplays the potential impact of the tariffs.

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USTR to Mull Increasing Tariff Rate from 10% to 25%

Per a statement from the Office of the United States Representative (USTR), President Donald Trump has directed USTR Robert Lighthizer to consider increasing the tariff rate on a previously announced list of Chinese imports worth $200 billion that have been targeted for duties.

According to the announcement, the president directed Lighthizer to consider increasing the rate from the initially announced 10% to 25%.

“The Trump Administration continues to urge China to stop its unfair practices, open its market, and engage in true market competition,” Lighthizer said in the release. “We have been very clear about the specific changes China should undertake.  Regrettably, instead of changing its harmful behavior, China has illegally retaliated against U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses.

“The increase in the possible rate of the additional duty is intended to provide the Administration with additional options to encourage China to change its harmful policies and behavior and adopt policies that will lead to fairer markets and prosperity for all of our citizens.

“The United States has joined forces with like-minded partners around the world to address unfair trade practices such as forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft, and we remain ready to engage with China in negotiations that could resolve these and other problems detailed in our Section 301 report.”

China Responds

According to a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Commerce, the U.S.’s actions on trade are “futile, “according to a report on the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

The “two-faced” approach referred to in the report points to the U.S. announcement regarding the potential increase in the tariff rate combined with the U.S.’s recent announcement that it wants to restart negotiations with China.

The spokesperson added the U.S. is acting against the interests of its farmers, business owners and consumers.

“Facing such an escalating trade war threat, China has made full preparations and will be forced to take countermeasures in order to defend national dignity, the interests of its people, free trade, and the multilateral system, as well as the common interests of all countries,” the spokesperson said.

Ross Says Tariffs Not ‘Cataclysmic’

In a television interview, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said a move to a 25% tariff on $200 billion in Chinese imports would not be “cataclysmic,” saying it would have a relatively small impact on the Chinese economy, Reuters reported.

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According to the report, Ross added that Trump thinks it is potentially time to apply more pressure on China in order to “modify” the country’s “behavior.”

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