United States proposes tariffs on $200 billion more in Chinese imports

Trump Announces New Taxes on TVs and Air Conditioners

New round of tariffs targets $200 billion of Chinese goods

Long accused of protectionist tactics that make it a hard place for foreign firms to operate, China is trying to reverse that narrative amid an escalating trade war with the United States, green-lighting huge investments and portraying itself as a champion of openness. China owns about $1.7 trillion in U.S. Treasuries. "This is a fight between unilateralism and multilateralism, protectionism and free trade, might and rules", Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing on Wednesday. This has raised concerns that China could retaliate with non-tariff trade measures. On Wednesday, the Trump administration said ZTE took another step toward ending a USA ban after ZTE signed an escrow agreement.

Most economists say the direct effect on the US economy will likely be small. That prompted fears Beijing, running out of imports for retaliation due to its lopsided trade balance with the US, might try to disrupt operations of American automakers, retailers and others that see China as a key market.

The president last month asked the U.S. Trade Representative's office to identify US$200 billion of Chinese goods that could be hit with 10 percent tariffs.

It also includes consumer goods ranging from auto tires, furniture, wood products, handbags and suitcases, to dog and cat food, baseball gloves, carpets, doors, bicycles, skis, golf bags, toilet paper and beauty products.

"Rather than address our legitimate concerns, China has begun to retaliate against US products".

The abrupt escalation is "totally unacceptable", said a Commerce Ministry statement.

Last Friday, the U.S. imposed 25 per cent tariffs on $US34 billion ($46 billion) of Chinese products, and Beijing responded by hitting the same amount of United States imports.

The eventual goal is to impose tariffs on 40 percent of Chinese imports, the same proportion of United States goods hit by Beijing's retaliation, an official told reporters.

In financial markets, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.5 per cent, while the main indexes in Hong Kong and Shanghai fell more than 2 per cent.

On Wall Street, futures for the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index were up 0.4 percent.

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A possible second round of tariff hikes announced Tuesday by the US Trade Representative targets a US$200 billion list of Chinese goods.

Members of Congress are increasingly questioning Trump's aggressive trade policies, warning that tariffs on imports raise prices for consumers and expose United States farmers and manufacturers to retaliation overseas. According to UBS, the new tariffs were structured to allow for fast implementation, and the bank said it's now likely the USA will follow through on its threat. They criticize Trump's tactics but share USA complaints about Beijing's industrial policies.

"But more tariffs like these will punish America's manufacturing workers - and could undermine our hard-won gains thanks to tax and regulatory reform".

China fired back at Trump's latest tariff announcement, with Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen saying the Asian nation won't yield to "blackmail" or hesitate to retaliate.

"China's failure to fully embrace the open, market-oriented policies on which this institution is founded must be addressed, either within the WTO or outside the WTO", Shea said according to prepared remarks released by the U.S. mission.

The earliest they would come into effect is September.

The US tech industry and other business groups say they oppose the move even though the administration says the tariffs are to protect the US's technological lead and put pressure on China to stop bad practices.

House Ways and Means Committee chief Kevin Brady, of Texas, warned of "a long, multi-year trade war between the two largest economies in the world that engulfs more and more of the globe".

"Companies in both countries will suffer losses".

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