US officials have published a list of US$50 billion (S$65.6 billion) in Chinese imports set to be targeted by US import tariff rates, the latest move in President Donald Trump’s simmering trade confrontation with Beijing.
The move came a day after Beijing imposed duties on about US$3 billion in US exports such as pork, wine and fruit, a countermeasure to US metal tariffs on metals that was widely seen as a warning.
The list – which includes electronics, aircraft parts, satellites, medicine, machinery and other goods – has yet to be finalised and is intended as a response to China’s alleged theft of American companies’ intellectual property and technology. The administration will hold a public hearing for US businesses on May 15. Even after that, it is not clear when the tariffs would be applied, reported CNN.
“The proposed list of products is based on extensive inter-agency economic analysis and would target products that benefit from China’s industrial plans while minimising the impact on the US economy,” the office of US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.
The US tariff unveiling drew an immediate condemnation from Beijing, along with a threat of retaliatory action.
China’s Ministry of Commerce said it would soon take measures of equal intensity and scale against US goods.
The US proposed list identifies roughly 1,300 Chinese goods to face import duties of 25 per cent but remains subject to a review process that will last through at least May before it can take effect.
The list, according to Bloomberg, focuses on high-tech items, such as semiconductors and lithium batteries, while seeking to minimise the impact on American consumers.
A USTR official said the tariff list targeted products that benefit from China’s industrial policies, including the “Made in China 2025” programme, which aims to replace advanced technology imports with domestic products and build a dominant position in future industries.
The state-led 2025 programme targets 10 strategic industries: advanced information technology, robotics, aircraft, new energy vehicles, pharmaceuticals, electric power equipment, advanced materials, agricultural machinery, shipbuilding and marine engineering and advanced rail equipment.
Many products in those segments appear on the list, including antibiotics, industrial robots and aircraft parts.
Parts for trash compactors, molds for the manufacture of semiconductors, motors, generators, cassette players, smart cards and high-definition colour video projectors dotted the list along with items such as rocket launchers and torpedoes.
Trump’s latest protectionist move threatens to upend global supply chains for corporations such as Apple and Dell, raise prices for American consumers who have grown accustomed to inexpensive electronics and aggravate tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
Monica de Bolle, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said Beijing was likely to retaliate again by targeting US exports of soya beans and Boeing aircraft – two politically sensitive sectors highly dependent on the Chinese market.
“However, they can wait this out and see what comes out of the 30-day consultation period,” she told AFP.
General trade tensions had calmed in recent days, with investors taking a degree of solace in news that Washington had begun talks to resolve differences with the European Union and China.
But in a series of irate tweets this week, Trump has renewed threats to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement – another trade bugbear the President has denounced as a killer of US jobs.
Canadian, Mexican and US officials are currently in fraught negotiations to overhaul the 24-year-old agreement, and analysts are saying the odds are slim that a deal can be reached ahead of elections in Mexico and the United States.