White House moves to finalize China trade sanctions

Geneva Stokes
June 1, 2018

An American business group called on Beijing on Wednesday to allow the same access to its state-dominated economy that China's companies have to USA markets after Washington revved up a simmering trade dispute with a surprise announcement of plans to go ahead with a tariff hike.

China today said the Trump adminstration is hurting its own credibility by every "flip-flop and U-turn" on trade tariffs, and warned that it does not want a trade war but will take forceful measures to defend its legitimate interests.

"China's industrial policies, such as its "Made in China 2025" plan, harm companies in the United States and around the world", the statement went on, adding that China imposes much higher tariffs on USA exports than the US imposes on China and that China's average tariff rate is almost three times the average US rate.

By June 15, Washington will release a list of some $50 billion worth of Chinese goods that will be subject to a 25-percent tariff, the White House said in a statement. Those restrictions will be announced by June 30, the Trump administration says, and will also be implemented "shortly thereafter". This investigation was done on China regarding the intellectual property practices in China.

Just nine days ago, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin - recently returned from unsuccessful trade talks in Beijing - declared that "we're putting the trade war on hold".

China retaliated by imposing additional tariffs worth about Dollars three billion on 128 USA products.

Having already undermined USA national security interests by agreeing to China's precondition to trade talks by easing penalties on ZTE, the administration now appears to be saving face by rattling its saber with new deadlines on investment restrictions and tariffs on China, said Ways & Means Committee Ranking Member Richard Neal.

He acknowledged the U.S. had limited options for keeping China from developing its domestic industries, but said "what we can do is we can stop them from putting our high-tech industries out of business with the tariffs".

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When asked by NPR as to why the trade war had resumed, Navarro responded: "That was an unfortunate soundbite, basically for two reasons", he said in regard to Mnuchin's words. The Trump administration had sought to slash the deficit by $200 billion.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is to visit Beijing this week to try and get China to agree to firm numbers for additional USA exports to the country.

Besides, the White House said it would continue with efforts to protect domestic technology and intellectual property, stop non-economic transfers of industrially significant technology and intellectual property to China, and enhance access to the Chinese market.

The overall effect on furniture remains unclear, although opponents and proponents of the tariffs have mentioned furniture in their public comments on the issue.

"No matter what the actions that the United States plans to take, China has the confidence, the capability and the experience to defend the core interests of the people and the nation", the statement said. "We are very surprised by the White House statement".

But when Trump subsequently said he would ease penalties against ZTE in order to save Chinese jobs, this drew a sharp backlash from his supporters.

It comes as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross prepares to travel to Beijing this week for another round of talks aimed at resolving the conflict.

Either way, repeated changes to the USA strategy on China may only bog down talks with Beijing moving forward, Reinsch said.

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