American Shipper

China retaliates against ‘Section 301’ tariffs

China struck back again for the second time this week in response to tariffs announced by the United States, releasing a list of over 100 U.S. products Wednesday pegged for tariffs.

   China’s Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday announced its intent to impose 25 percent tariffs on 106 items imported from the United States worth about $50 billion in 2017, after the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on Tuesday evening released its own list of proposed duties of 25 percent for approximately 1,300 tariff lines of Chinese goods totaling about $50 billion.
   The dollar value of the Chinese goods on the USTR list captures estimated trade value for 2018, and USTR proposed the tariffs pursuant to an investigation it led under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which allows the assessment of trade remedies to counter any foreign country’s “unreasonable” acts, policies and practices found to have denied U.S. companies “fair and equitable” commercial treatment.
   China will announce final measures and the effective time of the retaliatory tariffs at a later point, the country’s Commerce Ministry said.
   China said the U.S.-proposed tariffs violate World Trade Organization rules, and threaten China’s economy and security.
   Agricultural goods and aircraft are among the targets of China’s list, according to the Commerce Ministry announcement.
   Specific U.S. products on the Chinese list include soybeans, corn, wheat, cotton products, beef, whiskey, tobacco, SUVs, and several chemicals and chemical-related products, including plastics.
   USTR’s proposed tariffs would cover Chinese sectors including aerospace, information and communication technology, robotics and machinery.
   Any U.S. “Section 301” tariffs are expected to be finalized after May 22.
   China’s threat to retaliate against those tariffs follows Beijing’s April 2 implementation of 25 percent duties on eight different imports from the U.S., including pork and pork products, as well as 15 percent duties on 120 other imports from the U.S., including fruit, in retaliation against generally global U.S. “Section 232” tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, which took effect March 23.
   President Donald Trump took to Twitter Wednesday morning to insist the U.S. and China aren’t in a trade war.
   “That war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S.,” Trump tweeted. “Now we have a trade deficit of $500 billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 billion. We cannot let this continue!”
   USTR’s review found that China is unfairly forcing U.S.-based investors to transfer technology and intellectual property (IP) to the country.
   Trump added in a tweet later Wednesday morning: “When you’re already $500 billion DOWN, you can’t lose!”
   In response to the release of USTR’s proposed tariff list, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, called for Trump to closely consult U.S. companies to ensure any “Section 301” action “punishes China, and not American workers.”
   Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Dave Reichert, R-Wash., in another April 3 statement said China’s “theft” of U.S. technology and IP is a serious problem requiring action, but noted “the threat of retaliation is real” and urged the Trump administration to avoid actions that would provoke “devastating consequences” for Washington state’s workers.
   “With the Administration’s release of this list, the American public has the opportunity to provide input into the process and describe what tariffs on these goods would mean for them,” Reichert said. “I look forward to working with the Administration throughout this process because getting this right is essential for Washington’s trade-dependent economy.”
   More on China’s proposed “Section 301” retaliation, including its list of U.S. products marked for tariffs, can be found here.