China appeals for United States calm after new tariff threat
04 August, 2018, 22:56 | Author: Kevin Carter
The Trump administration said it's weighing whether to increase the proposed tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25 percent from 10 percent, stepping up pressure on Beijing to change its trade practices.
"On June 18, the president directed me to identify $200 billion worth of Chinese goods for additional tariffs at a rate of 10 percent, in response to China's decision to cause further harm to US workers, farmers, and businesses by imposing retaliatory duties on USA goods", Lighthizer said.
Slapping additional tariffs on Chinese imports - 60 percent of which are made by foreign firms, including American companies - will only raise costs for domestic U.S. consumers, said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
China is experiencing a weakening economy, hurting its ability to withstand USA trade pressure.
This is down nearly 16 percent from the June peak, a period that coincides with the ramping up of tariffs by the United States, coupled with increasingly bellicose rhetoric.
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 trillion dollars of goods - roughly the total amount of USA imports from China a year ago.
The United States has now proposed 25 per cent duties on a $200 billion catalogue of Chinese products, from air conditioning units and antiques to toilet paper and truffles. President Trump wants to reduce this deficit and has planned to implement tariffs against certain Chinese imports.
Increasing the pressure on China by threatening even higher tariffs could backfire. The U.S. exports goods to China amounting to $130 bln, so it is unlikely that it will be able to respond with a proportionate expansion.
"Instead of escalating this trade war, the president should have serious negotiations with the Chinese to create lasting change".
In response to the earlier reports of the move, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang decried the tactics as "extortion". The European Commission separately is considering a draft proposal to address some of the Trump administration's concerns and offer ways to fill gaps in WTO's 23-year-old rule book.
"China is forced to take countermeasures", said a ministry statement.
The administration has said the tariffs would remain in effect until China opens its markets to more competition and stops what the USA says are unfair practices.
"Our door for dialogue is always open".
American companies, industry and consumer groups have pleaded with the administration to avoid tariffs, saying they could raise their costs and eventually lead to price hikes for consumers.
While the tariffs would not be imposed until after a period of public comment, raising the proposed level to 25 percent could escalate the trade dispute between the world's two biggest economies.
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