Saturday, 18 August, 2018

China appeals for US calm after new tariff threat

The Trump administration had initially announced a 10 percent tariff The Trump administration had initially announced a 10 percent tariff
| 04 August, 2018, 22:55

Slapping additional tariffs on Chinese imports - 60 percent of which are made by foreign firms, including American companies - will only raise costs for domestic USA consumers, said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. "We advise the United States to be level-headed and avoid simply acting on impulse, otherwise it will ultimately hurt itself".

China, which has accused the United States of bullying, yesterday vowed to retaliate if President Donald Trump proceeds with the measures.

"China has been fully prepared and will have to retaliate to defend national dignity and the people's interests", the Commerce Ministry said in a statement Thursday. Global stocks took a tumble on Wednesday as news spread about U.S. plans for steeper tariffs.

Lighthizer claimed that Washington has joined forces with like-minded partners around the world "to address unfair trade practices such as forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft, and we remain ready to engage with China in negotiations that could resolve these and other problems detailed in our Section 301 report".

Trump has threatened to escalate the conflict even more by taxing virtually all of the $500 billion worth of goods China ships annually to the United States. "Unilateral threats and pressure will only be counterproductive".

Wang, who is in Singapore for a foreign ministers' meeting, said the spat will not affect diplomatic cooperation with Washington on North Korea. Concerns about the trade war are popping up in various business and consumer confidence surveys, prices for goods hit by various tariffs are on the rise, and businesses are starting to feel the squeeze from the increased prices.


- Boxed into a corner?

Washington is preparing to also impose tariffs on an extra $16 billion of goods in coming weeks, and Trump has warned he may ultimately put them on over half a billion dollars of goods - roughly the total amount of US imports from China past year.

The administration last month released a list of thousands Chinese products it wants to slap with an additional 10 percent in tariffs, ranging from television components to handbags and seafood to baseball gloves. Now Trump administration officials are reportedly considering increasing those tariffs to 25 percent.

China's government, however, shows no sign of bending to Washington's pressure.

But David MacNaughton, Canada's ambassador in Washington, told the AP it made sense for the USA and Mexico to negotiate first: "There are a couple of lingering issues between the USA and Mexico" that need to be settled "before we can move on", he said. The president is said to have dismissed the initial proposal as "weak".

"It's hard to see how this action lends itself towards a resolution to what is increasingly a trade crisis", he told AFP. Cushioning that impact is the massive fiscal stimulus of tax cuts and spending increases, which are expected to add 0.4 percentage point to GDP growth this year and a like amount in 2019, Moody's figures. They better not assume anything ...

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