BREAKING NEWS: China Hits Back With Tariffs on $50 Billion in US Goods - Global Trade Magazine
  April 4th, 2018 | Written by

BREAKING NEWS: China Hits Back With Tariffs on $50 Billion in US Goods

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  • China slapped 25-percent tariffs on 106 categories of US products.
  • The Chinese retaliation in tariff conflict had been expected, but its speed was not.
  • Trump: Trade wars are “good and easy to win.”

Hours after the United States Trade Representative announced a proposed list of 1,300 Chinese products that will be subject to new tariffs, China hit back with tariffs on $50 billion in US exports, including soybeans, automobiles, and chemicals.

The move, which imposes 25-percent tariffs against 106 categories of US products, came with breathtaking speed after the US proposed new tariffs on Chinese machinery, car and aircraft parts, televisions, steel, and more. The Chinese retaliation had been expected, but its speed was not. Clearly, the Chinese had their countermove prepared in advance against the expected development from the US.

Chinese officials have made it clear they don’t want a trade war but will not back down in the face of US levies on their exports. President Donald Trump, by contrast, has made the waging of trade wars a centerpiece of his policy, saying, in a recent tweet, that trade wars are “good and easy to win.”

The previous move in the conflict involved China imposing new tariffs on $3 billion of US exports of pork and fruit. Those came a few days after the US hit Chinese steel with new 25-percent tariffs.

Experts warned of the dire consequences of the further escalation of the global trend toward protectionism. “We tried that once before,” said James Stavridis, a retired US Navy admiral and the current dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, this morning in a television interview. “It was called the [1930] Smoot-Hawley tariffs.

“What did we accomplish with that?” he added. “We managed to crack the global economy, and from there you can drop a plumb line to rise of fascism in Europe.”

Because of the differing natures of the US and Chinese systems, China may get the better of the US in the latest skirmish. The Chinese tariffs against the US will presumably be applied almost immediately, but it’s going to take the USTR months to gather public comments and conduct hearings before it is able to finalize the list of Chinese products subject to the tariffs and to put them in place in practice.