Customs tariffs: the United States and China send the ball back

The United States and China reopened their trade hostilities on Friday by announcing each of the tariffs of 25% on $ 50 billion of their respective imports, ruining the “consensus” obtained hard-fought less than a month ago .

The new US taxes, decided to compensate this time for the theft of intellectual property and American technologies, will be imposed on goods “containing very important technologies on the industrial level” but they will spare popular products like cell phones or televisions .

“My wonderful relationship with President Xi of China and our country’s relationship with China is important to me. However, trade between our nations has been very unfair for a very long time, “said Donald Trump , ending the truce announced on May 19.

China has immediately announced that it will respond identically. “We will immediately take action on tariffs of equivalent magnitude,” said the Ministry of Commerce.

In detail, 34 billion Chinese imports will be taxed from July 6, said for his part the US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, adding that it concerned 818 products.

“The second batch” of $ 16 billion worth of Chinese imports “will be subject to further scrutiny” which will include a period of public consultations and hearings, added Robert Lighthizer.

Beijing said that 34 billion US products including agricultural products, cars and marine products, would also be taxed from July 6.

These announcements are not a surprise since the end of May, the White House had announced that it was still preparing punitive measures against China, despite a “consensus” found on May 19 after bitter negotiations first to Beijing, then to Washington. It then set June 15 as the deadline to announce these new taxes.

On 19 May, however, the two countries announced an agreement in principle to substantially reduce the US deficit with China and suspended their threats of punitive measures.

On Friday, Beijing announced that it would invalidate these agreements.

Boeing assesses potential damage

The new taxes announced Friday raise the fear of a trade war, which could compromise the economic growth of the whole planet.

Especially since the Trump administration has opened other fronts against the European Union and its partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement ( NAFTA ), Canada and Mexico. Its allies and trading partners, taxed on their imports of steel and aluminum, have already announced retaliatory measures and appeals to the WTO.

“China certainly does not want a trade war, but due to the malicious, harmful and short-sighted behavior of the United States, China is forced to impose powerful countermeasures and resolutely defend its national interests” The Chinese Ministry of Commerce argued that China has been hit by US tariffs on steel and aluminum since the end of March.

In the United States, Republican MP Kevin Brady, head of one of the most powerful congressional committees in Congress, said he was “worried” about the negative impact on “industrialists, farmers, workers and US consumers “.

Thomas Donahue, the president of the influential employers’ organization US Chamber of Commerce, warned of potential losses of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

And, the aircraft manufacturer Boeing, a prime target of a trade war, told AFP that he was now assessing the potential damage after this new escalation.

This renewed tension comes a week after Donald Trump has preserved in extremis Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE US sanctions imposed in April, which led the group to the brink of bankruptcy.

This turnaround of the administration provoked the indignation of the Republicans in Congress, who lamented that the White House was going after its allies rather than targeting China.

The White House pursues contradictory goals, experts say, as it seeks both an agreement on North Korea with Beijing’s support and Chinese economic concessions to reduce its trade deficit.

These turnarounds mistreated Wall Street which ended down Friday.

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