Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

As tariffs strike, U.S., China trade conflict escalates

China ‘fully prepared’ for trade war with US US 'firing at itself' with trade measures: China
Scott Davis | 07 July, 2018, 03:03

China has said it will not "fire the first shot" in a trade war with the United States, but its customs agency made clear on Thursday that Chinese tariffs on American goods would take effect immediately after USA duties on Chinese goods are put in place. "Tariffs will negate gains made by the public from tax reforms and deregulation, push up USA production costs, damage the competitiveness of businesses and their workers, and force companies to look outside the U.S.to maintain production".

The Commerce Ministry statement didn't provide details on its retaliation.

Beijing has made the semiconductor sector a key priority under its "Made in China 2025" strategy, which has intensified after a USA ban on sales to Chinese phone maker ZTE Corp (000063.SZ) underscored China's lack of domestic chips.

The big question is how far the hostilities between Washington and Beijing will go.

President Donald Trump complains that the U.S. trade deficit with China is too large; that the Chinese government gives unfair support to its home-grown companies; that China steals intellectual property from the USA by various means.

The direct impact of the imposed tariffs on the two countries' economic growth will be modest because the value of goods involved accounts for only a sliver of bilateral trade, but the impact on targeted industries will be significant, some analysts said.

The rapid tit-for-tat follows weeks of anxious anticipation over the "trade remedies" President Trump vowed last month to implement.

At the stroke of midnight Washington time, the United States pulled the trigger on 25-per cent duties on about US$34 billion in Chinese machinery, electronics and high-tech equipment, including autos, computer hard drives and LEDs.

Hours before Washington's deadline for the tariffs to take effect, US President Donald Trump upped the ante, warning that the United States may ultimately target over $500 billion worth of Chinese goods, or roughly the total amount of US imports from China past year. Trump said. "So we have 50 plus 200 plus nearly 300". Trump has threatened to target an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.




That would bring the total of targeted Chinese goods to potentially $550 billion, which is more than the $506 billion in goods that China actually shipped to the United States previous year.

Trump and his advisers argue the tariffs are necessary to pressure China into abandoning unfair practices such as stealing intellectual property and forcing American companies to hand over valuable technology.

The trade spat with China is part of the president's broader plan to renegotiate American trade deals with other countries.

A spokesman for China's Ministry of Commerce said Thursday that the United States was just hurting itself. "A deficit is actually a good thing for the USA because we're the world's biggest economic power, and other countries are willing to hold our debt", said Hsu. "We have been in trade deficits with almost every country across the globe for years, and the President wants to ensure that that doesn't continue".

China's economy is no longer as dependent on exports.

Wall Street gained on the back of a stronger-than-forecast employment report which helped U.S. stocks recover from an early bout of weakness as midday approached in NY.

The commerce ministry on Friday criticised Washington for "trade bullying" following the tariff hike that took effect at noon Beijing time in a spiraling dispute over technology policy that companies worry could chill global economic growth.

China's Global Times, a widely-read tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party's People's Daily, said China "does not want to get involved in a trade war", but that it would not back down against the United States. "We urge the two governments to come back to the negotiation table with the aim of having productive discussions based on achieving results - focused on fairness and reciprocal treatment - instead of escalating the current situation". And as with any good fight, there's a lot of trash talk on both sides. For example, the United States government wants China to rein in government subsidies for policies like "Made in China 2025", which seeks to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into industries such as robotics, electric cars and computer chips with the aim of becoming a global leader.

"It's still hard for me to believe the Trump administration could develop and negotiate an overarching package with China that genuinely sticks", Kennedy said.

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