Published: Thu, April 05, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

China tariff on US soybeans 'regrettable', says US industry body

China tariff on US soybeans 'regrettable', says US industry body

BEIJING -China responded to President Donald Trump's latest trade move by announcing tariffs on 106 us products, including soybeans, airplanes and cars, in the latest escalation of what risks becoming a tit-for-tat trade war between the world's two largest economies.

US President Donald Trump's top trade adviser blamed the markets for not reacting to the "unbelievable" strength of the American leader's economic agenda.

Because the actions will not be carried out immediately, there may be room for manoeuvre.

The administration will solicit written comments on the proposed tariff targets through May 11 and hold a hearing on May 15. China's commerce and finance ministries informed that the date of implementation will depend on when the United States takes action on its plan. "That is not viable", Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen told media briefing here today when asked about Trump's demand.

So far, it's not a trade war, but few are ruling out the possibility that it could turn into one.

"The assumption was China would not respond too aggressively and avoid escalating tensions", Julian Evans-Pritchard, the Senior China Economist at consultancy company Capital Economics, said.

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"There are some people in the West who think that China looks tough for the sake of a domestic audience, and would easily make concessions", the Global Times said.

The turmoil followed Beijing's announcement on Wednesday of proposed counter-tariffs on some $50 billion worth of American products.

Indeed, China immediately threatened to retaliate against the new United States tariffs, which target the high-tech industries that Beijing has been nurturing, from advanced manufacturing and aerospace to information technology and robotics.

The move toward trade sanctions on China, however, had received mixed reviews, with some support among lawmakers and industry bodies. "We can not let this continue!" Farmers are especially vulnerable targets in trade spats because they rely so much on foreign sales.

China's state-owned Global Times newspaper said Beijing had almost completed a tariff hit list, which "will involve major Chinese imports from the U.S.". "Now both sides have put up our lists".

The Commerce Ministry also said it had opened a dispute against the the World Trade Organization. They're among 106 products ranging from aircraft to chemicals targeted by Beijing in retaliation against proposed American duties on its high-tech goods.

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A Beijing-based spokesman for Boeing, the largest single United States exporter to China, declined to comment.

USA stocks open sharply lower on the escalating trade dispute, with the Dow falling 500 points early Wednesday. The dollar briefly extended early losses, while China's yuan skidded in offshore trade. In an email on Wednesday, Paul Burke, North Asia Regional Director of the U.S. Soybean Export Council, said duties on soybeans will hurt both U.S. farmers as well as Chinese soy processing, animal producers and consumers.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China had shown sincerity in wanting to resolve the dispute through negotiations.

"But the best opportunities for resolving the issues through dialogue and negotiations have been repeatedly missed by the United States side", he told a regular briefing on Wednesday.

U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad last month warned China against retaliatory measures aimed at imports of the oilseed and said any efforts to curb the trade would harm the Asian nation's regular citizens more than American growers. Companies and consumers will have the opportunity to lobby to have some products taken off the list or have others added.

Beijing claims the measure will defend China's legal rights in an emergency situation created by the contravention of global trade rules.

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The U.S. trade sanctions would hurt Chinese imports of 1,300 categories of products, from medical equipment to machine tools and dishwashers.

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