22 March, 2018
U.S. President Donald Trump announced Monday that he is preparing to impose a package of US$60 billion in annual tariffs against the Chinese products.
As the Trump administration barrels ahead with its plan to apply stiff tariffs on imported metals starting Friday, governments and businesses around the world are in a fog about what is happening and are bracing for at least a short-term hit because of what many criticize as the administration's slapdash process.
"Tomorrow the president will announce the actions he has chose to take based on USTR's 301 investigation into China's state-led, market-distorting efforts to force, pressure, and steal US technologies and intellectual property", the official said.
That's one of the administration's lines of attack to deal with the lopsided bilateral trade account, which according to United States data, the trade deficit with China reached a record US$375 billion previous year, with China's accounting considerably lower.
"If we want to negotiate something, we need more time", said Gabriel Felbermayr, director of Ifo Center for International Economics in Munich.
The exact size and makeup of the sanctions could still change, said two people who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions aren't public.
European Union trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom met with U.S. secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross yesterday as the bloc scrambles to secure an exemption from Trump's planned tariffs on metals imports. In January, Trump argued that China has engaged in theft from American companies by its demanding that they transfer their intellectual property to China in exchange for doing business.
"We are skeptical, but will hope to the end that there is a good solution", Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth told reporters in Brussels.
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It is expected to target technology, telecommunications and intellectual property, two officials briefed on the matter said. China is the largest US trading partner, importing more than $460 billion annually.
USA companies from Walmart Inc to Amazon.com Inc warned Trump this week that any sweeping trade action against China could raise consumer prices, increase costs for businesses and hurt stock prices. The coalition includes groups of retailers and makers of everything from toys to wine, while the council represents companies including Amazon, Alphabet Inc's Google, Facebook Inc and Microsoft Corp.
They warned that a broadly applied tariff remedy on imports from China will hurt American households with higher prices and exacerbate a USA tariff system that is already stacked against working families.
Stable relations between China and the United States will be good for the world, he told reporters in Beijing. "But there are risks of more pronounced escalation, leading to significantly larger economic impacts".
"Trade wars have a history of not ending well". He rebuffed suggestions that China could use its US$1.2 trillion US Treasury holdings as a lever.
But China's premier, Li Keqiang, said the issue should be solved through dialogue and negotiation.
Mr Li also said China will further open up its economy and its door to the outside will only get bigger and bigger, with foreign and domestic firms allowed to compete on an equal footing.
The Washington Post reported that Trump doubled a senior staff recommendation of $30 billion in tariffs.