Trade war: US set to hit China with new wave of tariffs

BY BBC.COM - Sep 01, 2019 at 2:20am 100

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The US is due to impose fresh tariffs on $112bn (£92bn) of Chinese goods from Sunday.

It marks a sharp escalation of the bruising trade war between the world's two largest economies.

The move is the first phase of US President Donald Trump's latest plan to place 15% duties on $300bn of Chinese imports by the end of the year.

Beijing says it has "ample" means to retaliate, while also calling for both sides to continue trade negotiations.

If fully imposed, Mr Trump's programme would mean that nearly all Chinese imports - worth about $550bn - would be subject to punitive tariffs.

What was initially a dispute over China's allegedly unfair trade practices is increasingly seen as a geopolitical power struggle.

So far, Washington has imposed tariffs on some $250bn of Chinese goods, while Beijing has retaliated with tariffs on $110bn of US products.

Businesses are finding it increasingly hard to navigate the uncertainty of the long-running trade dispute.

Analysts say that in view of the latest escalation, the prospect of a resolution looks grim.

"It's difficult at this stage to see how there can be a deal or at least a good deal," Julian Evans-Pritchard, a senior China economist at Capital Economics, told the BBC.

"Since talks broke down back in May, the position of both sides has hardened and there have been other complications, namely the Huawei ban and Hong Kong protests, which have made it even more difficult to bridge the gap."

The US government put Huawei on a trade blacklist in May, while President Trump has tied protests in Hong Kong to a possible trade deal with China.

What is expected on 1 September?
The US is due to impose a 15% tariff on $300bn worth of Chinese goods by the end of the year in two rounds.

The first round of duties is due to be introduced on 1 September and analysts expect those tariffs will target imports worth about $150bn.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative would not clarify the value of goods due to be hit with tariffs this month.

Products to be targeted in September range from meat and cheese to pens and musical instruments.

The 15% rate supersedes the 10% originally planned and was announced last week as tensions between the two sides escalated.

China initially said it would retaliate with measures targeting $75bn of US goods, but later appeared to soften those comments.

On Thursday, Commerce Ministry spokesperson Gao Feng said China had "ample" means to retaliate against planned US tariffs while emphasising the need to de-escalate tensions.

"The most important thing at the moment is to create necessary conditions for both sides to continue negotiations," he said in a briefing, according to Reuters news agency.

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