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China Hits Back On Trade Dispute, Slapping Tariffs On 128 U.S. Products

Imported nuts from the United States are displayed for sale at a supermarket in Beijing, Monday, April 2, 2018. China raised import duties on U.S. pork, fruit and other products Monday.
Image credit: Andy Wong

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China announced late Sunday that it would retaliate for the Trump administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminum by imposing its own import charges on a list of 128 U.S. goods, including agricultural products ranging from fruit to frozen pork.

The new tariffs, which China’s Ministry of Finance says begin on Monday, add fuel to what many economists fear is a burgeoning trade war between the two economic superpowers.

Beijing said it was suspending its obligations to the World Trade Organization to reduce tariffs on U.S. goods and would instead impose a 15 percent tariff on 120 U.S. goods, including fruit.

On pork and seven other products, the duty would be 25 percent, the Ministry of Commerce said, according to Xinhua news agency.

Beijing had warned last month that it was considering the tariffs on a range of products. It seems to have followed that script. Other items include wine and nuts, as well as aluminum scrap.

The ministry said the U.S. had “seriously violated” the free-trade principles in the WTO rules.

“China’s suspension of some of its obligations to the United States is its legitimate right as a member of the World Trade Organization,” the Chinese finance ministry said in a statement, according to Reuters.

The differences between the two countries should be resolved through dialogue and negotiation, the statement added.

The salvo from China follows the U.S. imposition of tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum that were initially applied to several trading partners. However, the European Union, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea have all since been temporarily exempted, while the White House has threatened further tariffs on China.

Last month, President Trump set in motion a further $60 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports to punish Beijing over the “theft” of intellectual property.

The South China Morning Post writes:

“… Beijing has so far held fire against major agricultural products such as soybeans or major industries such as aerospace giant Boeing – items that state-run daily Global Times suggests should be targeted.

The nationalistic newspaper said in an editorial last week that China has ‘nearly completed its list of retaliatory tariffs on US products and will release it soon.’

‘The list will involve major Chinese imports from the US,’ the newspaper wrote, without saying which items were on the document.”

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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