he trade war between the world’s two largest economies continues to heat up with the United States drafting tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese imports.
On Tuesday, the Office of the US Trade Representative proposed implementing 10 percent tariffs on a whopping 6,031 types of Chinese goods, including a range of food products and consumer electronics. These tariffs will not go into effect immediately, but will instead undergo a two-month review process with the office set to announce its final decision after August 31st.
The proposal comes only a few days after the Trump administration fired the first real opening salvo in the trade war, implementing 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese imports on Friday. While this initial move focused more on Chinese industrial products, the follow-up promises to instead affect ordinary consumers.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer writes that these new tariffs come as a response to how Beijing retaliated to the initial tariffs — quickly implementing matching tariffs on the same amount of US exports to China.
“For over a year, the Trump Administration has patiently urged China to stop its unfair practices, open its market, and engage in true market competition,” Lighthizer says. “We have been very clear and detailed regarding the specific changes China should undertake.
“Unfortunately, China has not changed its behavior – behavior that puts the future of the U.S. economy at risk,” he continues. “Rather than address our legitimate concerns, China has begun to retaliate against U.S. products. There is no justification for such action.”
Trump has said that in order to force China to reduce its trade surplus with the US — which stood at $336 billion in 2017 — he is prepared to eventually implement tariffs on $550 billion in Chinese imports. Meanwhile, China has declared, again and again, that it willrespond in kindwith levies of its own on American imports.
While meeting last month in Beijing with a group of CEOs from mostly American and European multinational companies, Chinese President Xi Jinping had someunusually ominous words, apparently in reference to Trump’s threats. “In the West, you have the notion that if somebody hits you on the left cheek, you turn the other cheek. In our culture, we punch back,” Xi said.
China’s commerce ministry has called the Trump administration’s latest proposal “totally unacceptable” and “irrational,” and has vowed that China will once again take “necessary countermeasures” in order to defend its core interests.