China and the US began imposing additional tariffs on each other’s goods yesterday, the latest escalation in a bruising trade war, despite signs that talks would resume some time this month. A new round of tariffs took effect from 0401 GMT, with Beijing’s levy of 5% on US crude marking the first time the fuel has been targeted since the world’s two largest economies started their trade war more than a year ago. The Trump administration will begin collecting 15% tariffs on more than $125bn in Chinese imports, including smart speakers, Bluetooth headphones and many types of footwear. In retaliation, China started to impose additional tariffs on some of the US goods on a $75bn target list. Beijing did not specify the value of the goods that face higher tariffs from Sunday.
The extra tariffs of 5% and 10% were levied on 1,717 items of a total of 5,078 products originating from the US. Beijing will start collecting additional tariffs on the rest from December 15. Chinese state media struck a defiant note. “The United States should learn how to behave like a responsible global power and stop acting as a ‘school bully’,” the official Xinhua news agency said. “As the world’s only superpower, it needs to shoulder its due responsibility, and join other countries in making this world a better and more prosperous place. Only then can America become great again.” Tariffs could not impede China’s development, said the official People’s Daily of the ruling Communist Party. “China’s booming economy has made China a fertile ground for investment that foreign companies cannot ignore,” it said, in a commentary under the name ‘Zhong Sheng’, or ‘Voice of China’, which is often used to state its view on foreign policy issues.
Last month, US President Donald Trump said he was increasing existing and planned tariffs by 5% on about $550bn worth of Chinese imports after Beijing announced its own retaliatory tariffs on US goods. Tariffs of 15% on cellphones, laptop computers, toys and clothing are to take effect on December 15. The US Trade Representative’s Office said on Thursday it would collect public comments through September 20 on a planned tariff increase to 30% on a $250bn list of goods already hit with a 25% tariff.Trade teams from China and the US continue to talk and will meet in September, but tariff hikes on Chinese goods set to go in place yesterday will not be delayed, Trump has said. For two years, the Trump administration has sought to pressure China to make sweeping changes to its policies on intellectual property protection, forced transfers of technology to Chinese firms, industrial subsidies and market access.
China has consistently denied Washington’s accusations that it engages in unfair trade practices, vowing to fight back in kind and criticising US measures as protectionist. China has pressed the US to cancel the tariff increase, but said last week that a September round of talks was being discussed between the two. The trade war further strains Beijing-Washington ties, already overshadowed by US freedom of navigation exercises near Chinese-occupied islands in the disputed South China Sea, and US support for self-ruled and democratic Taiwan, which China claims as its own.
Sources and photo-credits: Gulf Times, Reuters