US to impose tariffs worth $200 billion on China

Trump prepared to immediately place tariffs on another $267 billion worth of imports if China takes retaliatory action against US industries

By Jim Tankersley and Keith Bradsher in New York
  • Published 19.09.18
  • a few seconds read
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Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams talks about the Apple Watch Series 4 during the product launch in Cupertino, California. Apple's products have been spared from new US tariffs imposed on Chinese goods. (Reuters)

New York: President Trump, emboldened by America's economic strength and China's economic slowdown, escalated his trade war with Beijing on Monday, saying the US would impose tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods and was prepared to tax all imports.

Trump, in a statement released late on Monday, showed no sign of backing down from the type of full-blown trade war between the world's two largest economies that has rattled financial markets, saying he was prepared to "immediately" place tariffs on another $267 billion worth of imports "if China takes retaliatory action against our farmers or other industries".

The tariffs on $200 billion worth of products comes on top of the $50 billion worth already taxed earlier this year, meaning nearly half of all Chinese imports into the US will soon face levies. The next wave of tariffs, which are scheduled to go into effect on September 24, will start at 10 per cent before climbing to 25 per cent on January 1.

The timing of the staggered increase will partially reduce the toll of price increases for holiday shoppers buying Chinese imports in the coming months.

"For months, we have urged China to change these unfair practices, and give fair and reciprocal treatment to American companies," Trump said. "We have been very clear about the type of changes that need to be made, and we have given China every opportunity to treat us more fairly. But, so far, China has been unwilling to change its practices."

The tariffs are aimed at pressuring China to change longstanding trade practices that Trump says are hurting American businesses at a moment when the administration believes it has an advantage in the trade dispute. China's economy is slowing, with consumers holding back and infrastructure spending slowing sharply.

The Chinese slowdown is expected to worsen as America's tariffs ramp up. The US, by contrast, has continued to experience robust economic growth, including the lowest unemployment rate since 2000.

White House officials said on Monday that China could win relief from the tariffs by acceding to the administration's trade demands, including allowing American companies greater access to the China market and dropping its requirement that American companies hand over valuable technology to Chinese partners.

Officials said the US would only continue trade negotiations if the Chinese were "serious" about giving ground on those issues.

The tariffs are aimed at hurting China, but they could hamper the American economy and bring pain for consumers. Unlike the first round of tariffs, which were intended to minimise the impact on American consumers, this wave could raise prices on everyday products.

Retailers, manufacturers and a wide swathe of other American businesses have warned that the new tariffs could hurt their profits, hiring and growth. The administration held six days of public hearings on the proposed $200 billion round of tariffs last month.

New York Times News Service