Trump calls for more tariffs in scale-up of trade war against China

Published on
September 10, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to extend U.S. tariffs to an additional USD 267 billion (EUR 230.1 billion) worth of Chinese goods in comments made on Friday, 7 September.

Trump said the new round of tariffs will “take place very soon, depending on what happens.” He added a new list of goods to be affected by the tariffs is ready to go and could be rolled out on short notice, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Trump’s administration previously announced tariffs on USD 200 billion (EUR 170 billion) of Chinese goods on 11 July. That was a follow-up on his levying of tariffs on USD 50 billion (EUR 29.3 billion) worth of Chinese goods in June, and China’s equivalent response later that month.

"If the United States insists on imposing another round of tariffs on Chinese products, China will definitely take countermeasures to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said following publication of Trump’s threat on 7 September.

Trump and senior trade officials in his administration are debating how to structure the USD 200 billion (EUR 170 billion) in already-announced tariffs. Specifically, they are debating whether to immediately impose a 25 percent tariff, or to phase in a tiered structure of tariffs, with some rates as low as 10 percent, according to the Financial Times.

Despite the initial rounds of tariffs, China's exports to the United States actually rose over the summer, up 13.3 percent in July and 13.4 percent in August, reaching USD 44.4 billion (EUR 38.3 billion). Likewise, Chinese imports of U.S. goods also rose, reaching USD 13.3 billion (EUR 11.5 billion), an increase of 11.1 percent. That totals extended China's trade surplus with the United States to an all-time high of USD 31 billion (EUR 26.7 billion).

The high trade totals over the summer are likely the result of exporters front-loading orders before the U.S. government’s latest round of tariffs take effect, according to Gai Xinzhe, an analyst at the Bank of China’s Institute of International Finance in Beijing, speaking to Bloomburg.

“With further large-scale U.S. tariff measures imminent, Chinese exporters will be hit hard and China’s GDP growth rate in 2019 is likely to be dented,” said Rajiv Biswas, Asia Pacific chief economist at IHS Markit in Singapore, told Bloomberg. “If the U.S. keeps ramping up its tariff measures against China, the export sector will face a long, hard road ahead despite government measures to mitigate the impact.”

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