Trump slaps tariffs on US$200 billion in Chinese goods

10:48 | 19/09/2018 Global Economy

U.S. President Donald Trump escalated his trade war with China on Monday, imposing 10 percent tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers speech at the White House - Photo: AFP

Trump spared smart watches from Apple and Fitbit and other consumer products such as bicycle helmets and baby car seats.

Trump, in a statement announcing the new round of tariffs, warned that if China takes retaliatory action against U.S. farmers or industries, “we will immediately pursue phase three, which is tariffs on approximately US$267 billion of additional imports.”

The iPhone was not among the ‘wide range’ of products that Apple told regulators would be hit by the $200 billion round of tariffs in a September 5 comment letter to trade officials.

But if the Trump administration enacts a further round of tariffs on US$267 billion in goods, engulfing all remaining U.S. imports from China, the iPhone and its competitors would not likely be spared.

Collection of tariffs on the long-anticipated list will start September 24 but the rate will increase to 25 percent by the end of 2018, allowing U.S. companies some time to adjust their supply chains to alternate countries, a senior administration official said.

So far, the United States has imposed tariffs on US$50 billion worth of Chinese products to pressure China to make sweeping changes to its trade, technology transfer and high-tech industrial subsidy policies.

The escalation of Trump’s tariffs on China comes after talks between the world’s two largest economies to resolve their trade differences produced no results. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week invited top Chinese officials to a new round of talks, but thus far nothing has been scheduled.

“We have been very clear about the type of changes that need to be made, and we have given China every opportunity to treat us more fairly,” Trump said in his statement. “But, so far, China has been unwilling to change its practices.”

A senior Trump administration official told reporters that the United States was open to further talks with Beijing, but offered no immediate details on when any new meetings may occur.

“This is not an effort to constrain China, but this is an effort to work with China and say, ‘It’s time you address these unfair trade practices that we’ve identified that others have identified and that have harmed the entire trading system,’” the official said.

China has vowed to retaliate further against any new U.S. tariffs, with state-run media arguing for an aggressive “counterattack.”

China's yuan currency has weakened by about 6.0 percent against the U.S. dollar since mid-June, offsetting the 10 percent tariff rate by a considerable margin...

Theo Reuters