Trump Threatens Another Round of Tariffs Against China as Tensions Escalate

Charlene Craig
April 7, 2018

The White House announced after the markets closed Thursday that Trump had instructed the Office of the United States Trade Representative to consider whether $100 billion USA of additional tariffs would be appropriate and, if so, to identify which products they should apply to.

U.S. -China trade tensions stepped up another notch after President Trump late Thursday instructed the U.S. trade representative "to consider" slapping an extra $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods.

In recent weeks, Washington and Beijing have been exchanging shots in an intensifying trade conflict.

"China will take new comprehensive countermeasures to resolutely safeguard the interests of our nation and our people at whatever cost", he said in a statement posted on the foreign ministry website.

"This is very similar to his rhetoric against Kim Jong Un, when he compared whose [nuclear] button is bigger".

President Xi Jinping next week is expected to unveil fresh measures on reform and his country's opening up at the high-profile Boao Forum, China's equivalent of Davos, in the southern island province of Hainan.

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The same four products - cranberries, orange juice, whiskey and tobacco - were included on a list of 106 goods that China plans to hit with heavy new tariffs as part of its escalating trade dispute with the United States.

There are plenty of ways that China could bring pressure to bear in that way.

Wisconsin - a swing state that voted for President Donald Trump in 2016 - produces more than half of the world's cranberries. Take soybeans as an example, many states depend on this [exports to China].

Among the low points: The US national security strategy in December naming China, along with Russian Federation, as threatening American interests; the US increasing naval operations in the South China Sea; and legislation signed by Mr Trump last month calling for Cabinet-level official visits to Taiwan, which is regarded by Beijing as part of China.

Analysts said the spectre of these measures, along with the potential for further action such as limits on Chinese investment in the United States or USA investment in China, could drag on the "Made in China 2025" initiative.

"This issue [trade tensions with China] is not something that Trump can unite the whole world in introducing sanctions, like he did against North Korea".

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Although it is still unclear what goods the threats of an additional $100 billion worth of tariffs will cover, it will likely heighten fears of a full-scale trade war between the two economic giants. "Many countries even complained about the U.S. policy and are against such tariffs", Yen said. Asian markets were mixed, with China on holiday and Hong Kong just returning from one.

Bluffing has always been Trump's style in negotiations, where he loves to make excessive demands. In other words, China's strategy may be working. He believes he has an upper hand. "I believe that the Chinese will back down and will play ball". He is also not afraid of taking risks. "This is business", Navarro said.

"No President wanted to go against China economically, and we're going to do it", he told the gathering.

Beijing has also unveiled plans for painful import duties targeting politically-sensitive USA exports, including soybeans, aircraft and autos. Euro zone government bond yields also dipped as the trade dispute between the United States and China flared. This means it's impossible for the Trump administration to target such companies.

In August 2017 Washington formally started a trade investigation into China's intellectual property practices and the forced transfer of USA technology under Section 301 of U.S. trade law, which addresses intellectual property.

The views and opinions expressed by the contributors do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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