China will file a dispute at the World Trade Organization (WTO) regarding U.S. tariffs across approximately $263 billion worth of goods from China in annual import value, China’s Commerce Ministry said Sept. 2.
That $263 billion represents the latest round of U.S. Section 301 tariffs on China, the first phase of which took effect at a rate of 15% on Sept. 1. Tariffs across the rest of that tranche will take effect at a rate of 15% on Dec. 15.
The case will be the third dispute that China has brought against the U.S. at the WTO regarding Section 301 tariffs, after the first such proceeding was started on April 4, 2018.
The latest measures break from a consensus reached by Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping during the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, in June, China’s Commerce Ministry said. The G20 summit ended with the U.S. and China agreeing to restart trade talks, as the countries also agreed to hold off on imposing any new tariffs as talks resume.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on Aug. 27 issued a written response to the first dispute case filed by China at the WTO, asserting that the U.S. was justified in its “sovereign right” to impose Section 301 tariffs in response to China’s theft and unfair acquisition of technology and intellectual property.
“China’s unfair trade acts, policies and practices are long-standing and well-documented,” USTR wrote. “China cannot credibly dispute their existence, their unfairness or their distortionary impacts on world trade.”
As the U.S. and China continue to tussle at the WTO, Trump told reporters on Sept. 1 that U.S. and Chinese officials are planning to meet this month in Washington, D.C., for trade talks.
But a Sept. 2 Bloomberg report, citing unnamed sources, says officials from both countries are “struggling to agree” on the schedule for the planned meeting, after the Trump administration rejected China’s request to delay the tariffs that took effect Sept. 1.
Trump on Aug. 1 announced tariffs across an initially planned $300 billion worth of goods, after July trade talks between U.S. and Chinese officials yielded little progress.
Treasury then named China a currency manipulator on Aug. 5, as China halted purchases of U.S. agricultural products.
Treasury said that it would increase engagement with the International Monetary Fund to eliminate any unfair competitive advantage created by any Chinese actions to devalue the yuan.
Speaking Sept. 1 on Fox, University of Maryland business professor Peter Morici said the latest round of tariffs won’t impact the average American as much as critics say, noting that the devaluation of the Chinese yuan gives every U.S. importer “a discount,” as well as opportunities to find non-Chinese suppliers.
Trump alluded to the Morici interview in a Sept. 1 tweet, noting that it’s “absolutely worth it” to find suppliers outside of China.
“We don’t want to be servants to the Chinese!” Trump said. “This is about American Freedom. Redirect the supply chain. There is no reason to buy everything from China!”