It should come as no surprise that President Trump last week announced the imposition of a 10% tariff on an additional U.S. $300 billion worth of Chinese goods from Sept. 1.
The new tariff would come on top of the 25% levy that Trump already imposed on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports — resulting in the U.S. taxing nearly everything China sends to it, The New York Times reported.
The move appears to be in frustration with the slow pace of negotiations since the president and President Xi Jinping met at the G20 summit in Japan in June and agreed to restart negotiations.However, talks have broken down due, the U.S. side says, to a failure by China to implement earlier promises to buy large volumes of U.S. agricultural products, a promise Trump said at the time was to be immediately implemented but was never agreed to by the Chinese side.
In what has become a media circus of twitter announcements and accusations, it is impossible to tell who is telling the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth.
The reality is both sides use the media to pressure the other by making statements of the other’s intent, only to then accuse them of backtracking when it doesn’t happen.
More importantly, both sides seem further apart than ever and neither side seems willing or able to engage in the meaningful compromises that a negotiated settlement would require. It is therefore a near certainty the tariffs will remain in place, at least until after the 2020 presidential elections and should, if Trump is re-elected, quite possibly continue for many months thereafter.
The Chinese side, much like the Europeans in dispute with the U.S. over Airbus and Boeing subsidies, appear to have decided the current administration is not willing to negotiate or compromise and, as such, only a one-sided agreement is possible. So, if they wait it out until after the elections, there is a chance they may have a different administration with which to deal.
In the meantime, China is likely to impose some reciprocal tariffs against a further range of U.S. goods, but they are fast running out of products to which they have not already applied some form of tariff (as they import less from the U.S. than they export).
China could increase existing tariffs, but are more likely to make life increasingly difficult for American corporations doing business with and exporting to China as a form of retaliation. The New York Times lists surprise inspections, rejections for licenses, and moves to roll out a list of “unreliable entities” that Beijing has threatened to take action against as examples of potential measures China may use other than tariffs.
Either way, the stock market and currency market’s reaction to the news of additional tariffs says it all — both fell as investors acknowledged the damage the tariffs would cause to global growth and investment.