Trade war turns real as US confirms China tariffs

RSTV Bureau
File photo of US President Donald Trump. PTI/AP

File photo of US President Donald Trump.
PTI/AP

US move to impose tariffs on Chinese goods worth tens of billions of dollars has turned into reality on Friday, further escalating trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

This means Businesses will have to pay 25% additional tax on $34 bn of certain Chinese products they import – including aircraft tyres and commercial dishwashers.

US sanctions will prompt immediate retaliation from Beijing which has vowed to “immediately” impose counter-tariffs on American exports in tit-for-tat measures.

The rift is on a continuous boil and has send shock waves around the global economy and strike at the heart of the world trading system. The prospect of trade war will roil the global market and raise cost for consumers and businesses.

“We’re starting to see signs of inflation, not sharp inflation, but definitely inflation,” Anthony Nieves, head of a services industry survey committee for the Institute for Supply Management, told reporters.

White House trade officials say the current strength of the US economy means Washington can withstand more pain than its rivals if the battle escalates further.

But economists also say the trade war comes as the period of synchronized expansion among the world’s largest economies, which is bolstering demand for US goods and services, may be starting to run out of steam, raising the risks that tariffs could harm growth.

But the Trump team has paid little heed to such warnings, with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross this week slamming them as “premature and probably quite inaccurate.” The US will levy a 25 percent tariff on more than 800 Chinese product categories worth around $34 billion and has warned of more to come if China retaliates.

Trump has threatened to progressively ratchet up US penalties to a total of USD 450 billion in goods — which would represent the lion’s share of all of China’s exports to the United States.

The tariffs target a broad spectrum of Chinese goods — such as passenger vehicles, radio transmitters, aircraft parts and computer hard drives — from industries Washington says have benefited from unfair trade practices. A second tranche of 284 goods worth USD 16 billion is currently under review and could be added to the US list.

China is expected to retaliate as soon as the US tariffs go into effect, imposing duties on goods worth roughly the same amount but with a greater emphasis on politically sensitive agricultural products.

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has already sounded the alarm about the cycle of retaliation, saying it would only create “losers on both sides.” And Gao noted that of the $34 billion in taxable products on the US list, about $20 billion — or nearly two thirds — are made by firms with foreign investment, including a “significant portion” from America.

(With agency inputs)