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China: ‘Capricious’ trade policies will hurt USA workers

22 June 2018

Trade relations between Beijing and Washington risk descending into all-out conflict, with US President Donald Trump having threatened to impose tariffs on nearly all of Chinese exports to the United States.

The tariffs, mostly 25 percent, are designed in part to "make noise" by targeting politically important states like Kentucky, Florida, and Wisconsin, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said. The higher tariffs had previously been registered with the World Trade Organization (WTO).

More than $3 billion worth of US goods - from bourbon and corn to Harley Davidson motorcycles - are now under a 25 percent tariff in the European Union, in retaliation for the Trump administration's tariffs that hit the EU, Mexico and Canada earlier this month. Canada's retaliatory measures begin on July 1, and Mexico and other nations have also announced they will respond.

"We are already beginning to see some increased regulatory scrutiny against US companies operating in the market, whether it is increased Customs enforcement, local emissions inspections at our companies' factories or stricter enforcement of the advertising law", said Mr Jake Parker, vice-president of China operations for the US-China Business Council in Beijing. But, he said, the move could hurt India's economic growth as the country diversifies its exports, as well as prompt India "to re-look at US relations as undependable".

Case in point: Daimler AG late Wednesday slashed its earnings outlook for the year, saying fewer Chinese consumers will buy Mercedes-Benz SUVs because of tariffs Beijing is slapping on autos imported from the US.

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Late last month, Mr Trump proceeded to infuriate United States allies - from the European Union to Canada and Mexico by imposing tariffs of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminium.

Gao's comments come two days after President Trump directed his top trade official to identify $200 billion more worth of Chinese goods that will be subject to tariffs, escalating the ongoing trade dispute.

In a survey released Wednesday by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, almost half of European firms said it had become "more difficult" to do business in the past 12 months.

In trade wars, there tend to many casualties and few winners.

On Thursday, Indian imposed tariffs on 29 U.S. goods worth $ 238 million as a countermeasure.

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Even before Mr Trump's latest threat, some U.S. companies in China were feeling the pressure. All told, the $450 billion in potential tariffs would cover almost 90 percent of goods China sends to the United States.

The commission formally adopted the new tariffs, allowing them to come into effect on June 22.

Economists and trade analysts worry that there may be no way out of an all-out trade war between the United States and its most vital trading partners.

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China: ‘Capricious’ trade policies will hurt USA workers