Trump tariffs hit $50 billion of Chinese goods

June 15, 2018

The Trump administration announced Friday new tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, intensifying a trade dispute while seeking continued Chinese support in keeping pressure on North Korea.

The 25 percent tariff hits 1,102 products categories, nearly the full list that was put on hold last month for trade talks. Mr. Trump had been expected to significant trim that list.

China has threatened to retaliate with tariffs on $50 billion of U.S. goods. The tariffs has stoked fears of a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

Mr. Trump described it as more of a business deal, stressing his personal relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“I have a wonderful relationship with President XI. We’ll all work it out. He understands it’s unfair,” Mr. Trump said on Fox News’ “Fox Friends.”

Mr. Xi made similar comments Thursday about his personal relationship with Mr. Trump. He said he wants to grow the U.S.-China relations.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the administration was playing defense.

“We must take strong defensive actions to protect America’s leadership in technology and innovation against the unprecedented threat posed by China’s theft of our intellectual property, the forced transfer of American technology and its cyberattacks on our computer networks,” he said.

Mr. Lighthizer said Beijing was “aggressively working to undermine America’s high-tech industries and our economic leadership through unfair trade practices and industrial policies like ‘Made in China 2025.’ ”

Made in China 2025 is a policy rolled out in 2015 to comprehensively upgrade China’s industry, with an emphasis on high-tech including pharmaceuticals, and expend China’s influence globally.

Mr. Trump has made import taxes part of his “America First” policies to counter China’s trade barriers and unfair trade practices. He wants to reduce America’s $375 billion trade deficit with China.

The administration previously imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum. The move irritated trading partners including Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

The tariffs focus on products from China’s industrial sector including aerospace, information and communications technology, robotics, industrial machinery, new materials and automobiles.

The list does not include goods commonly purchased by American consumers such as cellphones or televisions, according to the administration.

The tariff policies have met opposition from trading partners, free-trade advocates in Congress and industry leaders in America.

Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, said bilateral trade deals are better trade wars.

“There is no question that China cheats and that its unfair trade practices and intellectual property theft are hurting America’s manufacturing workers,” he said. “To put an end to these threats and redefine the U.S.-China economic relationship, manufacturers are calling for a new path forward: a fair, binding, enforceable bilateral trade agreement.”

Mr. Trump’s tough trade action was applauded by Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, who typically opposes the president’s every move.

“The president’s actions on China are on the money. China is our real trade enemy, and their theft of intellectual property and their refusal to let our companies compete fairly threatens millions of future American jobs,” the New York Democrat said.

He added, “While we await further details on this trade action, President Trump is right on target.”

Update hourly