Trump slams tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports
Sheetal Sukhija - Friday 23rd March, 2018
The new tariffs and trade restrictions come on the heels of Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs
Trump’s directed U.S. trade representatives to level tariffs on Chinese imports
The new tariffs targeted China’s unfair seizure of U.S. intellectual property theft
WASHINGTON, U.S. - After his opening round of tariffs on steel and aluminum, which many feared would trigger a global trade war, U.S. President Donald Trump launched a more aimed salvo targeting Chinese goods on Thursday.
The U.S. President widened his war on Chinese trade abuses, directing U.S. trade representatives to level tariffs on about $50 billion worth of Chinese imports.
Trump’s new salvo specifically targetted China’s unfair seizure of U.S. intellectual property and also includes plans to impose new restrictions on China’s ability to invest in the American technology industry.
Further, the Trump administration is also planning to take action against China at the World Trade Organization, along with additional measures set to be proposed by the country’s Treasury Department.
Trump said on Thursday that his decision came in response to China’s history of forcing U.S. companies to surrender their trade secrets to do business in China.
Signing a memorandum announcing the trade actions, Trump lamented the America’s multi-hundred billion dollar trade deficit with China and said the action would be "the first of many."
He said, "We have a tremendous intellectual property theft problem. It's going to make us a much stronger, much richer nation."
Further, in his statement announcing the new tariffs, Trump directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer to announce a proposed list of products to be hit with tariff increases within 15 days.
According to reports, the final list targeting Chinese products that benefited from improper access to U.S. technology, will be made public following a 30-day public comment period.
The White House reportedly expected the new taxes to reach up to 1,300 specific imports but has assured that this would have a “minimal impact” on consumers.
Everett Eissenstat, deputy assistant to the president for international economic affairs said in a statement issued to the media, “The end objective of this is to get China to modify its unfair trading practices.”
Further, Lighthizer has been ordered by Trump to complain to the World Trade Organization about China’s discriminatory licensing practices for foreign companies.
U.S. officials believe that key allies including Europe and Japan will support the move.
Lighthizer said the tariffs would focus on theft of U.S. technologies and said Trump "concluded that we should put in place tariffs on appropriate products" following the investigation.
He added, “This is an extremely important action. Very significant and very important for the future of the country, really across industries.”
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is now set to put together a proposal of new investment restrictions to address concerns about Chinese investors.
These would include state-sponsored investment funds and acquiring U.S. companies to gain access to their technology.
The White House said Thursday’s action were to “target China’s economic aggression.”
Peter Navarro, director of the White House office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy said, “China is engaged in practices which harm this country.”
Further, Trump administration officials have said that China’s economic policies are distorting global markets for key products such as steel and will soon affect more advanced industries like semiconductors and artificial intelligence.
Since the last 1970’s, when U.S. first launched its economic engagement with China, enhancing trade ties between the world’s two largest economies - with the aim that it would benefit both the Chinese and American population - trade between the two nations has mushroomed to $635 billion from $116 billion in 2000.
Over the years, however, U.S. companies have complained about strict restraints on their operations in the Chinese market.
But now, Navarro pointed out, “That process has failed. China benefits far more from the U.S.-China relationship than the U.S. does. Administrations before us and this administration has tried very, very hard to work with the Chinese. Talk is not cheap. It has been very expensive to the American people. This is a historic event. President Trump should be applauded for his courage and vision on this."
Trump’s move on Thursday came weeks after his administration announced steel and aluminum tariffs, which targeted several countries.
After China and other nations complained and threatened retaliation, Trump exempted Canada and Mexico from the import levies as talks to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement continue.
On Wednesday, Lighthizer also told the Senate Finance Committee that the European Union, Argentina, Australia, Brazil and South Korea will not be hit by the tariffs.
The move, he said were temporary for now, while they negotiate possible permanent exemptions.
Meanwhile, economists, who have warned that these actions threaten a far-reaching trade war, have pointed out that U.S. consumers are likely to bear the cost of the tariffs.
Moments before Trump’s announcement of the new salvo of tariffs, China's Premier Li Keqiang said at a news conference in Beijing, "A trade war does no good to anyone. There is no winner.”
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