US threatens $100bn in additional tariffs against China

06 April 2018 08:09 Source:ICIS News

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--US President Donald Trump late on Thursday said he has instructed the US Trade Representative (USTR) to consider $100bn in additional tariffs against China but is still open to have discussions to remove trade barriers.

These would be in addition to the $50bn worth of US tariffs previously proposed on hundreds of Chinese imports.

President Trump in a statement issued by the White House also instructed his agriculture secretary to use his authority to implement a plan to protect US farmers and agricultural interests.

China on 4 April decided to slap 25% tariffs on 106 products originating from the US, with the chemicals sector one of the key targets of the measures.

The China list has 44 industrial and chemical raw materials, including polyethylene (PE) butane, polycarbonate (PC), epoxy, acrylonitrile (ACN) and others.

"In light of China's unfair retaliation, I have instructed the USTR to consider whether $100bn of additional tariffs would be appropriate under section 301 and, if so, to identify the products upon which to impose such tariffs," Trump said in a statement.

Trump said that China’s “illicit trade practices − ignored for years by Washington − have destroyed thousands of American factories and millions of American jobs”.

“Notwithstanding these actions, the United States is still prepared to have discussions in further support of our commitment to achieving free, fair, and reciprocal trade and to protect the technology and intellectual property of American companies and American people,” Trump said.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Commerce quoted by China's official Xinhua on Friday said that China will "fight at any cost and take comprehensive countermeasures if the US continues its unilateral, protectionist practices".

"On Sino-US trade, China has made its position very clear. We don't want a trade war, but we are not afraid of such a war," the spokesperson said.

The US earlier on 3 April released a proposed list of products imported from China that could face 25% tariffs, covering 1,333 products valued at some $50bn in annual imports, in aerospace, information and communication technology, robotics and machinery.

Some 18% of all China’s exports go to the US. The US reported a $347bn trade deficit with China last year.

US White House economic adviser Kudlow continued to remain positive and he thinks the US will get a trade deal with China ‘over a period of time’.

Photo: Chinese workers sort masses of parcels, most of which are from online shopping, at a distribution center of an express delivery company in Chongqing, China. (Imaginechina/REX/Shutterstock)

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By Nurluqman Suratman