Published: Sat, August 04, 2018
Money | By Michele Stevens

Trump pressures China with threat to crank up size of proposed tariffs

Trump pressures China with threat to crank up size of proposed tariffs

"China is fully prepared for the United States' threats to escalate the two countries' trade war and will have to fight back to defend its dignity and the interests of its people", said the statement posted on the Ministry of Commerce's website on Thursday.

Bloomberg News reported, citing three unidentified sources, the Trump administration would propose imposing 25 percent tariffs on a $200 billion list of Chinese goods targeted in a new round of penalties, up from the planned 10 percent. It said retaliatory duties of between 5 and 25 per cent will be imposed on 5,207 products "if the US side persists in putting its tariff measures into effect".

The administration's approach to China is the same one it has employed in dealing with North Korea, Iran, the European Union and NAFTA partners.

The administration's trade moves are aimed at forcing China to end what it calls unfair trade practices, including improperly obtaining American intellectual property.

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Trade officials from the world's top car-exporting nations agreed to respond if President Donald Trump slaps new US tariffs on autos and auto parts.

There was no immediate reaction from the Chinese government. "It will slow the economy".

In contrast, the United States economy expanded at an annualised rate of 4.1 per cent in the second quarter, the fastest for nearly four years, according to advance estimates. "I think it would be a very complicated thing to get out of, because I don't see an easy remedy once we go down this path", said Michael Camuñez, president and CEO of Monarch Global Strategies and former USA assistant secretary of commerce for market access during the Obama administration.

China, which has accused the United States of bullying, again vowed to retaliate if Trump proceeds with the measures, warning that pressure tactics would fail.

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The escalating conflict between the White House and China shows no signs of abating. "So, this unifies NAFTA and US-Europe, Australia, Japan - China is increasingly isolated with a weak economy".

Growth in the third and fourth quarters is likely to be slower as these temporary effects unwind and the baseline for quarter-on-quarter comparisons becomes more challenging.

But China exports far more to the United States than the other way round, making it more challenging for the country to hit back against USA tariffs. Consumer price inflation is also rising and starting to erode the real value of wage rises.

The United States has already imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese imports and is readying 25 percent tariffs on another $16 billion worth to punish China for allegedly using predatory tactics to obtain USA technology. Those tariffs have already started to affect some businesses, though only a small fraction of the USA economy is experiencing consequences.

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The GCC's total trade with China was close to $110bn a year ago, with the largest export from the region being crude oil, and accounts for more than two thirds of China's trade with the Middle East, according to Nasser Saidi, former chief economist of DIFC, former Lebanese economy minister, who was quoted by gulf daily The National.

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