USA more than doubles tariffs on US$200bn worth of Chinese goods

In a sharp escalation of the US-China trade war, the USA hiked its 10% tariffs on US$200bn of Chinese goods to 25% on 10 May.

The move will affect more than 5,000 products including fresh and frozen food, chemicals, textiles, electronics, consumer goods, butter, grains, flaxseed, rapeseed, sunflower seed, other oilseeds such as hemp and niger, soyabean flour and meal, and other oilseed flour and meal. Soyabeans have already been subject to 25% levies since last year.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative also said it had been ordered to "begin the process of raising tariffs on essentially all remaining imports from China, which are valued at approximately US$300bn", BBC News reported.

China responded the same day the tariffs were raised, saying it "deeply regrets" the US decision to hike tariffs and that it would have to retaliate with the "necessary countermeasures".
However, the country did not announce any details on when it would take action.

The Guardian newspaper wrote that China’s options for retaliation included blocking US soyabean pruchases, devaluing the yuan to counteract the tariffs, or delaying regulatory approvals for US firms operating in China.

US President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter that "we are right where we want to be with China. Remember, they broke the deal with us and tried to renegotiate. We will be taking in tens of billions of dollars in tariffs from China.”

However, BBC News said that the higher tariffs would be paid by American companies importing goods from China.

Asked in an interview with Fox News Sunday whether it was correct to say that it was US businesses and US consumers who would pay for the tariff, Trump's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow said: "Yes, to some extent. I don't disagree with that."

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that the tariff war posed a threat to the global economy, saying that the escalation of US-China trade tensions was one factor to have contributed to "significantly weakened global expansion" late last year.

The USA has accused Beijing of unfair trade practices and complained about its record US$379bn trade deficit with China.

Last July, Trump announced tariffs on various Chinese products, and China responded with retaliatory 25% tariffs on US products, including farm products such as soyabeans, in an attempt to inflict pain on Trump supporters in the US heartland.

The USA then imposed 10% tariffs on US$200bn worth of Chinese imports on 24 September, which prompted China to impose 25% duties on a wide range of US food products including several edible oils.

On 1 December, the two countries reached a temporary truce, agreeing not to impose additional tariffs on each other’s goods, but Trump complained last week that negotiations were proceeding too slowly.