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Trump: Tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports will increase pressure

September 17, 2018

President Trump on Monday announced new tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports, ratcheting up pressure on Beijing to stop unfair trade practices.

He said that he would not abide retaliation from Beijing.

“If China takes retaliatory action against our farmers or other industries, we will immediately pursue phase three, which is tariffs on approximately $267 billion of additional imports,” Mr. Trump said in a statement announcing the tariffs.

The massive tariffs threatened to scuttle planned U.S.-China trade talks this month and rattled Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 92 points, or 0.35 percent, to close at 26,062 after Mr. Trump previewed the announcement.

The president said he resorted to the new tariffs after months of negotiations failed to budge Beijing.

“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. But, so far, China has been unwilling to change its practices,” said Mr. Trump.

He described the trade dispute with China in grave terms.

“As President, it is my duty to protect the interests of working men and women, farmers, ranchers, businesses, and our country itself. My Administration will not remain idle when those interests are under attack,” he said.

The new tariffs hit a wide variety of Chinese imports from car parts to food seasoning. The duty takes effect Sept. 24 at a 10 percent rate. The rate increases Jan. 1 to 25 percent.

The phase-in was designed to give U.S. campaigns more time to adjust their supply chains, according to senior administration officials.

The tariffs were issued under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 that give the president broad power to respond to foreign governments engaged in unjust or discriminatory trade that harms the U.S.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office last year concluded that China engaged in numerous unfair policies and practices relating to theft of U.S. technology and intellectual property, including forcing American companies to transfer technology to Chinese counterparts as a condition for doing business in China.

The USTR estimated Chines theft of ineffectual property cost American companies between $225 billion and $600 billion annually.

The president said the practices “plainly constitute a grave threat to the long-term health and prosperity of the United States economy.”

Mr. Trump often touts his great relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and insists there is a deal to be made that benefits both countries.

But Mr. Trump made it a priority to reduce American’s trade deficit with China, which was $375 billion in 2017.

The administration teed up the steep new duties months ago.

Most economists warn the tariff tacit will backfire by raising prices and costing jobs in the U.S.

The previous tariffs did not lead to widespread price hikes for U.S. consumers, but China’s retaliation punished American farmers.

But Juscelino F. Colares, a scholar of international trade at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, said a get-tough posture from an American president was long overdue.

He said that after years of keeping tariffs low, the president had no other option than raising tariffs to force China to change.

“Our counter-parties have not reduced tariffs and other barriers while we have kept a very open market and continued liberalizing. Thus, we had to shake things up to stop this inequitable evolution,” he said.

The administration previously hit China with $50 billion in tariffs, using the duties to force negotiations on ending China’s trade barriers and theft of American intellectual property.

China fired back with tariffs on $50 billion of U.S. good.

Beijing vowed to fight back this time with more tariffs by canceling trade meetings scheduled for this week, imposing retaliatory tariffs and using other measures, including restricting sales products and materials okey to the U.S. manufacturing.

Some goods targeted in the new tariffs were removed from the original list of goods published last year. The revisions were made in response to thousands of written comments and hours of public testimony.

The removed tariff lines included:

Some electronic consumer products such as smartwatches and Bluetooth devices;

Certain chemical inputs for manufacturing goods, textiles and agriculture;

Health and safety products such as bicycle helmets, rubber and plastic gloves, sanitary hospital paper sheeting;

Child safety furniture such as highchairs, car seats and playpens.

The revisions did not significantly reduce the roughly $200 billion value of Chinese goods subject to the new tariffs, according to the official.

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