New tariffs proposed as trade war escalates

New tariffs proposed as trade war escalates

Wed, 04/04/2018 - 17:31
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Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang speaks at a regular press conference in Beijing this week. Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC

China has hit back against the United States on trade tariffs, unveiling a $US50 billion list of US products subject to higher import fee, including cars, whiskey, chemical products and soybeans.

An additional tariff of 25 per cent will be applied to 106 consumer goods, with a trade value matching the $US50 billion of additional import fees proposed to be applied to Chinese imports by the US government on Tuesday.

Other US imports subject to the new taxes include cigars and tobacco, some types of beef, lubricants, orange juice, cotton, wheat, propane and plastic products.

The Chinese Ministry of Finance said the tariffs would go into effect at the same time as the new US import duties.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said China strongly condemned the US’ proposed tariff list, describing it as unilateralism and trade protectionism.

“The US side neglected the mutually beneficial nature of the 40-year old China-US economic cooperation,” Mr Lu said.

“It turned a deaf ear to the voices of the business communities and ignored the interests of consumers from the two sides.

“Such a move is in the national interest of neither the US nor China, and it is bad for the global economy.”

Mr Lu again repeated China’s claim that the US tariffs were in violation of the basic principles and spirit of the World Trade Organisation, and that China would refer the move to the WTO dispute settlement division.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang also reiterated that China was not afraid of entering a trade war with the US, though it would prefer to avoid one.

“If someone is bent on waging it and even closing in on our doorstep, then we will keep them company and let's see who last to the end,” Mr Geng said.

“China has the determination and capability to take all necessary measures to safeguard its legitimate and lawful rights and interests.

“They may have their list, but we also have our own.

“Another thing we keep stressing is that our door to negotiation is always open.

“We want to resolve trade disputes and properly deal with the relevant issues with the US side through dialogue and consultation, and we want to do that based on international law and trade rules, not on some domestic laws of the US.

“We want to do it while bearing in mind mutual respect, equal treatment, mutual understanding and give-and-take, instead of one party condescendingly threatening another with senseless and unreasonable demands.”

Global sharemarkets plunged following the news, with London’s FTSE and Paris’ CAC40 down around 0.5 per cent, while Germany’s DAX fell by 1 per cent.

China’s stock markets had already closed prior to the announcement by the Ministry of Finance.