The Latest on the US-China Trade Conflict: Exchanging Tariffs

05 April, 2018, 01:48 | Author: Mable Gonzales
  • US leaves door open to talks with China amid fear of imminent trade war

China struck back Wednesday at American tariffs placed on its goods with tariffs of its own.

Wednesday's Chinese tariff hike targeted goods including soybeans, the biggest USA export to China, and aircraft.

On March 23, Trump imposed massive trade tariffs amounting to United States dollars 60 billion on China, in an effort to stop the latter from stealing "intellectual property" from American companies.

Trump has argued that the Chinese government forces USA companies to surrender proprietary technology to gain access to the Chinese market, resulting in the theft of trade secrets.

On Tuesday, the administration of President Donald Trump threatened to slap tariffs on $50bn in Chinese imports across 1,300 categories of products, ranging from industrial robots to locomotives.

The USTR list, which includes medicines and technology devices related to the aerospace and robotics industries, is now out for a 30-day public scrutiny before the tariffs take effect.

Soybeans, the top USA agricultural export to China, were among the 106 US products on which Beijing announced additional tariffs.

Investors are wondering whether one of the worst trade disputes in many years could now turn into a full-scale trade war between the world's two economic superpowers.

"Even though the numbers between China and the USA are comparable, it seems clear that China is trying to twist the knife", he said, "This is a warning that 'we are willing to fight harder and inflict more pain that you are'".

Some warn that Trump's effort to crack down on China's trade practices or limit Beijing's foothold in the US market could have negative implications in cyberspace.

Experts say that Chinese hackers, widely viewed as among the most sophisticated, have shifted their operations so as not to explicitly violate the agreement while still maintaining a presence in USA networks.

The brinksmanship may still lead to a breakthrough in the coming days, with Chinese President Xi Jinping scheduled to give a major speech on "new opening up measures China will take" at the Boao Forum on Monday, according to Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Asian markets, including Hong Kong's Hang Seng index, fell Wednesday amid trade war fears, suggesting that China's move was stronger than many investors expected. He added that some US punitive action against Beijing has been "coming for a while" over what the United States calls China's predatory behavior involving technology.

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Tech companies like Apple Inc, Lenovo Group Ltd or Hisense Electric Co that operate significant Chinese production bases may also come out losers.

China's state-run media says the probe will "poison" the relationship between the two countries, while the Chinese government later slams the Trump administration's "unilateralism and protectionism".

The agency added that such policies "bolster China's stated intention of seizing economic leadership in advanced technology as set forth in its industrial plans".

Among industrial companies, CRRC Corp, the Chinese train maker that's been expanding overseas, could feel the heat.

He said: "We have never had an economy like we have right now, and we are going to make it bigger, and better and stronger'". Among big technology shares, Facebook was down 1.7 percent.

The larger concern, the commerce secretary said, is the protection of US intellectual property.

The USTR list ranged from chemicals to light-emitting diodes to machine parts, but US industry groups warned it would still hit supply chains that rely on Chinese components and would ultimately raise costs for consumers.

"Just about every major ICT product was exempted", one US industry source said of the USA list. "China and the United States share broad common interests in cybersecurity".

Large technology companies also struggled. The U.S. economy has been humming along with a strong job market, while Brazil just a year ago emerged from its punishing recession and growth in the euro area has reached its highest level in a decade.

US authorities say Beijing denies foreign companies the right to block use of technology by a Chinese entity once a licensing period ends.

"Wall Street does not like uncertainty, and that's certainly what they're seeing", Elizondo said.

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