Trump: tariffs on Chinese goods will go forward

30/05/2018

Departing from its fresh decision to put the trade war “on hold,” the Trump administration announced it will be slapping tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods.

 

The White House said May 29 it would be imposing a 25-percent tariff on $50 billion worth of China-made products, including flat-screen televisions, medical devices, aircraft parts and batteries.

“We feel surprised by the tactical statement issued by the White House, and yet it was also unsurprising,” the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said in a statement, suggesting it may not consider the White House’s word set in stone.

The ministry added that China would “defend the interests of the Chinese people and core national interests.”

Less than a week ago, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said tariffs were off the table as high-level trade negotiations continue between Washington and Beijing.

 

 

“We feel surprised by the tactical statement issued by the White House, and yet it was also unsurprising,” the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said.

 

 

Mnuchin’s comments were made after the two economic superpowers on May 19 issued a vague statement that they were working towards a deal to address what U.S. President Donal Trump has called a trade imbalance that favors China.

Trump had threatened in March to slap on Chinese imports to prevent the poaching of U.S. intellectual property — one of the administration’s frequent talking points.

China under President Xi Jinping responded to the aggression by turning around and threatening tariffs on $50 billion worth of U.S. farm, chemical and other exports.

The recent joint statement suggested that the two sides might be reaching a deescalation point in what has been a series of tough talks. Trump’s reversal seems to suggest otherwise.

Some experts have pointed out that Trump is wont to jarring reversals, and the latest announcement may be just another temporary stance to pressure China into concessions.

 

 

The recent joint statement suggested that the two sides might be reaching a deescalation point in what has been a series of tough talks. Trump’s reversal seems to suggest otherwise.

 

 

Others said that Trump was irritated by news reports that he was being “soft” on China because of the administration’s decisions to pause the trade war and ease sanctions on ZTE, a struggling Chinese telecommunications gear manufacturer.

While Mnuchin, a former investment banker and free trade advocate, has pushed for compromise with Beijing, others in the Trump administration, including U.S. Trade Secretary Robert Lighthizer, have favored a more unyielding and protectionist stance against China.

With a summit between the Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung-un currently on hold, which had been set for June 12 China was helping organize, Trump may also have less need to maintain good relations with China.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is set to return to Beijing this weekend to continue negotiations. Ross, like Mnuchin, has favored avoiding a trade war through compromise, like a commitment by China to seriously increase its purchase of American-made goods.

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