Sunday, 22 July, 2018

United States 'firing at itself' with trade measures: China

US 'firing at itself' with trade measures: China China rejects ‘blackmail’ on eve of US tariff hike
Lindsey Cook | 07 July, 2018, 03:02

But the trade gap between the U.S. and China widened sharply, Commerce Department said.

China's Ministry of Commerce said Friday in a statement that the USA had launched "the largest trade war in economic history". American officials worry US industrial leadership will be eroded by Chinese plans to create tech champions in fields including robotics, biotech and artificial intelligence.

The Commerce Ministry statement didn't provide details on its retaliation.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that U.S. companies had already felt Beijing's sting "in the form of stalled product approvals, worker visas and licensing applications".

In response, the world's second-largest economy warned it would take the "necessary countermeasures", triggering what is now a full-blown trade conflict.

By itself, Mr. Trump's opening salvo, a 25 percent tariff on 818 Chinese imports, worth $34 billion a year, amounts to a rounding error as compared with the overall size of the us and Chinese economies.

It's not merely a tit-for-tat tariff exchange, but something more fundamental.

Tariffs imposed so far by all sides affect about $60 billion of goods, or 0.3 per cent of world trade, according to Slater.

Another $16 billion are expected to go into effect in two weeks and potentially another $500 billion, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on his way to Montana before the tariffs kicked in. Trump said. "So we have 50 plus 200 plus nearly 300".

That would bring the total of targeted Chinese goods to potentially US$550 billion - more than the US$506 billion in goods that China actually shipped to the United States past year.

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Shaun Rein, managing director at the China Market Research Group in Shanghai, said the Chinese government's next play could be to stoke anti-American sentiments among consumers - similar to the boycotts it ordered a year ago on South Korea's Lotte Group, which caused dozens of the company's convenience stores to shutter.

China's exports to the United States grew 5.4 per cent in the first half, 13.9 percentage points lower than for the same period previous year, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said on Thursday that the proposed US tariffs would hit many American and foreign companies operating in China and disrupt their supplies of components and assembly work. Trump has railed against Beijing for intellectual property theft and barriers to entry for United States businesses and a $375 billion USA trade deficit with China. But after three rounds of negotiations between the two sides, including a Chinese pledge to significantly increase purchases of American products, Trump made a decision to go ahead with the tariffs.

China's economy is no longer as dependent on exports. U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports have provoked retaliatory measures against billions of dollars of American exports.

The Commerce Ministry on Friday criticized Washington for "trade bullying" following the tariff hike that took effect at noon Beijing time in a spiraling dispute over technology policy that companies worry could chill global economic growth.

For the time being, analysts say it's hard to see Washington or Beijing backing down in the dispute.

FILE PHOTO: The label of a Washington D.C. sweatshirt bears a U.S. flag but says "Made in China" at a souvenir stand in Washington, DC, U.S., January 14, 2011.

China said Wednesday that it would not fire the first shot in its continuing trade battle with the United States.

The start of the trade war also likely confirms the widening rupture between Trump and his own Republican Party, a traditional champion of free trade and big business. "We urge the two governments to come back to the negotiation table with the aim of having productive discussions based on achieving results - focused on fairness and reciprocal treatment - instead of escalating the current situation". For example, the U.S. government wants China to rein in government subsidies for policies like "Made in China 2025", which seeks to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into industries such as robotics, electric cars and computer chips with the aim of becoming a global leader.

Back in 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced an ambitious plan for Chinese companies to dominate the hi-tech industries of the future - including biotechnology, robotics and new-energy vehicles - called "Made in China 2025".

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