China is looking to impose tariffs on key US imports – including soyabeans, beef and chemicals – in retaliation against the US government’s plan to impose tariffs of its own on Chinese IT products.
Announced less than 12 hours after the Trump administration made its plans official, China’s list of a 25% tariffs on US goods covered 106 items with a trade value mirroring the US$50bn price tag attached to the US tariffs, wrote Reuters on 4 April.
If implemented, China’s tariffs would hit major US exports, including soyabeans, frozen beef, cotton and other agricultural goods that are largely produced in states that supported Trump during the 2016 presidential elections.
The USA, on its part, targeted products – such as machine parts and light-emitting diodes – that benefited from China’s industrial policy and the Made In China 2025 programme to replace advanced technology imports with domestically produced products.
However, neither trade action would be implemented immediately, and the publication of the US list had triggered a two-month public comment and consultation period, the conclusion and results of which would affect China’s measures, Reuters said.
Wilbur Ross, US Secretary of Commerce, told the CNBC news channel that it “would not be surprising” if the USA and China would end up at a negotiation table, but he declined to speculate when such talks could take place.
US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to state that the reciprocal trade action did not mean the countries had drifted into trade war.
“We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish or incompetent people who represented the USA,” Trump said.
In mid-March, US soya farmers voiced their concern about possible Chinese retaliation against their product due to the US government’s tariffs.
John Heisdorffer, president of the American Soybean Association, told Platts on 16 March that the tariffs would make life “very hard” for American soya farmers.
“Our capable competitors in Brazil and Argentina are all too happy to pick up whatever slack we leave in supplying the Chinese market,” he said.