China had a swift reaction to Donald Trump’s plans to double down on failing tariffs—Beijing said it would add more taxes to $60 billion in US goods.
Trump’s proposal to increase US tariffs on Chinese goods from 10% to 25% this week is a “serious violation” of World Trade Organization rules and damages Chinese national interests, the Ministry of Finance said (link in Chinese) in a statement released today (Aug. 3). It’s the latest escalation in what has become the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.
Nearly 2,500 US products will be taxed at 25% (link in Chinese) Beijing said, a list that includes cocoa butter, tequila, zippers, wine, leather, laundry soap, paper bags, crystal goblets, and liquified natural gas. Another 1,078 products will be taxed at 20% (link in Chinese) including thermoses, chewing gum, antiques and toothbrushes. Nearly 1,000 products will be taxed at 10%, (link in Chinese) including sandpaper, optical cables, and peanut butter. And over 650 products will be taxed at 5% (link in Chinese), including formaldehyde, tractor parts, and speedometers.
Trump told US’s officials to hike tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25% this week, the the office of the US Trade Representative said, a strategy that has been widely criticized by industry groups, economists, and otherwise supportive members of the US congress. As Quartz has written:
In taking on Beijing, the Trump administration goes head-to-head with the wealthiest, most powerful Chinese Communist Party government in history. Unlike Trump, Chinese president Xi Jinping doesn’t have to worry about whether the tariffs he imposes are unpopular with voters—because there are no free elections in China. And as the head of an authoritarian government, Xi can also pick the industries that will take a hit from US tariffs, without worrying too much about losing deep-pocketed political donors.
China’s response was predictable, critics of Trump’s policy said. “China’s announcement shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone–it’s déjà vu all over again,” said Americans for Farmers and Families, a coalition of agriculture companies lobbying to preserve NAFTA and lower trade tariffs. “Every single time we propose new trade barriers, China never fails to do the same.”
The White House gave no indication that it planned to deviate from the failing strategy.
“We’ve said many times: no tariffs, no tariff barriers, no subsidies. We want to see trade reforms. China is not delivering, OK?,” chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow said in an interview on Bloomberg TV today. “Their economy’s weak, their currency is weak, people are leaving the country. Don’t underestimate President Trump’s determination to follow through.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that trade experts said China is imposing higher levies on Canadian goods as well. They made that assessment based on an incorrect translation of Beijing’s statement. The increased tariffs are for US goods only.