China Sets Retaliatory Tariffs On $60bn In US Goods

FILE Photo of China Map

 

 

China Tuesday announced tariffs on US goods worth $60 billion in retaliation for President Donald Trump’s decision to slap duties on $200 billion in Chinese products next week.

Tariffs of between five and 10 percent will take effect on some 5,200 US products on Monday, on the same day as the new US duties, the finance ministry said.

The two side already traded tariff salvos on $50 billion in goods from each country in the summer.

“If the United States insists on raising tariffs, even more, China will respond accordingly,” the finance ministry said in a statement.

China had previously warned that it would target $60 billion in US goods if Trump made good on his threat to impose the new tariffs.

The lower Chinese figure highlights Beijing’s inability to match the US dollar-for-dollar in a tariffs war.

The US imported around $500 billion worth of products from China last year, compared to $130 billion in US goods imported by the Asian country.

Trump threatened to hit another $267 billion in Chinese goods if Beijing took retaliatory action.

The Chinese finance ministry did not provide a detailed list of products to be hit by the new tariffs on Monday.

A previous list said products ranging from pig hides to cocoa butter and condoms would be targeted.

China had previously said the $60 billion in US goods would face tariffs of five to 25 percent. It was unclear if the tariffs announced on Tuesday were lower to match the US plan.

The US said the Chinese imports will face 10 percent tariffs through the end of the year, and then the rate will jump to 25 percent.

AFP

Turkey Hits Back At US With Tariff Hikes On Key Products

 

Turkey on Wednesday said it was hiking tariffs on imports of several key US products in retaliation for American sanctions against Ankara, as a bitter dispute between the two allies that sent the Turkish lira into freefall showed no sign of ending.

The lira — which had lost just under a quarter of its value in trade on Friday and Monday — however continued to claw back some ground on financial markets, rallying over five per cent against the dollar.

The lira’s fall had raised fears Turkey was on the verge of a fully-fledged economic crisis, especially in its banking system, that could spill over into Europe and other markets.

Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay said that the tariff hikes were ordered: “within the framework of reciprocity in retaliation for the conscious attacks on our economy by the US administration”.

President Donald Trump had previously announced that the US was doubling steel and aluminium tariffs on Turkey, as the two NATO allies row over the detention by Turkish authorities of American pastor Andrew Brunson.

The hikes were published in Turkey’s Official Gazette in a decree signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has repeatedly described the crisis as an “economic war” that Turkey will win.

The tariff increases the amount to a doubling of the existing rate, the state-run Anadolu news agency said, in an apparent parallel response to Trump’s move.

The decree said the move brought tariffs to 50 per cent on imports of US rice, 140 per cent on hard alcoholic drinks like spirits, 60 per cent in leaf tobacco and 60 per cent on cosmetics.

The tariffs on auto imports are now up to 120 per cent, depending on the type of vehicle.

 Rate hike urged 

Erdogan on Tuesday said Turkey would boycott US electronic goods like iPhones, even though he has himself been photographed repeatedly using the product himself.

He also made his now famous speech on the night of the July 2016 failed coup calling citizens out into the street through FaceTime, an iPhone app.

Moves by the central bank to ensure Turkish banks have liquidity and a planned conference call by Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, who is Erdogan’s son-in-law on Thursday have gone some way to giving reassurance to investors.

The lira was trading on Wednesday at 6.02 to the dollar, a gain in value on the day of 5.5 per cent.

But many analysts say the only way for the authorities to show they are really serious about tackling Turkey’s economic problems — which include inflation approaching some 16 per cent — would be a sharp rate hike.

“Significantly more than just official promises of action are needed to exit the current crisis,” said Andy Birch, principal economist at IHS Markit, calling for “a sharp central bank rate rise”.

Court rejects Brunson appeal 

Turkey has meanwhile resisted pressure to release Brunson — who has been held for two years and is currently under house arrest — with officials warning it could face further sanctions.

A court in the western Turkish city of Izmir rejected a new appeal to free Brunson on Wednesday, the state television TRT reported.

Erdogan has warned Turkey could seek alternative partners pointing to Ankara’s strong ties with Russia, Iran and China.

The president is due to meet with the emir of gas-rich Qatar, one of Turkey’s very closest allies on Wednesday.

Turkish officials have also been keen to emphasise that Ankara wants to retain strong ties with Europe, which has also expressed deep unease with Trump’s trade policies.

A Turkish court Tuesday released two Greek soldiers detained since March on espionage charges for illegally crossing the border in a case that has stoked tensions with Brussels.

AFP

China Exports Top Forecasts, Warns Of US Tariffs Impact

Workers unloading bags of chemicals at a port in Zhangjiagang in China’s eastern Jiangsu province.  Johannes EISELE / AFP

 

China on Wednesday posted a forecast-busting surge in exports for July, but while its surplus with the US dipped slightly analysts warned that the full impact of US sanctions was yet to be felt.

The figures come as the world’s two largest economies exchange threats of stiff duties on billions of dollars worth of goods, fuelling fears of a full-blown trade conflict that could hit global growth.

Beijing reported a $28.1 billion surplus with the US in July, down from the record $28.9 billion seen in June. But it was 11 per cent higher than in the same month last year.

China’s global trade surplus also fell, from $41.5 billion in June to $28 billion in July. Exports surged a better-than-expected 12.2 per cent in July, while imports soared 27.3 per cent, also beating estimates.

But the latest readings are unlikely to ease tensions with Donald Trump’s administration.

China’s gaping trade surplus with the United States has long been a bone of contention, with the US president accusing the country of unfair practices and of stealing American jobs and technological know-how.

While July’s numbers narrow the gap, the relatively small change will do “little to cool down the escalating trade tensions between the two countries”, said Betty Wang, senior China economist at ANZ Research.

The recent decline of the yuan likely helped Chinese exporters as it makes their products cheaper, but it could fuel tensions with Trump, who has accused Beijing of manipulating its currency.

But Wang said the currency devaluation “has been largely market-driven” and “is not a preferred policy tool by Chinese policy makers as part of the retaliation measures.”

The White House on July 6 imposed 25 per cent tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese products entering the US, triggering a tit-for-tat response from Beijing.

Analysts were split on how much effect the tariffs had on July’s reading.

“The impact of tariffs on exports is yet to be reflected. We will see a full-month tariff effect in August,” Iris Pang, greater China economist at ING Wholesale Banking in Hong Kong, told Bloomberg News.

But Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said: “Shipments to the US did weaken slightly, which hints at some impact from the tariffs.

“Equally though, this may reflect a broader softening in economic momentum among developed economies given that exports to the EU edged down too.”

 ‘Cool headed’ 

Trump has boasted that trade wars are “easy to win” and warned he would hit virtually all Chinese imports if Beijing does not back down and take steps to reduce its $335 billion surpluses with the US.

On Tuesday, US officials said they would slap 25 per cent levies on another $16 billion worth of Chinese imports from August 23.

In a statement, the office of US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said its “exhaustive” investigation showed “China’s acts, policies and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation are unreasonable and discriminatory and burden US commerce.”

US officials said there were 279 new goods to be targeted in the latest round of tariffs, including motorcycles, tractors, railroad parts, electronic circuits, motors and farm equipment.

The move had been widely expected but with China lining up retaliatory measures it reinforced worries that the two sides are heading for an all-out trade war that could hamper the global economy.

Washington has also lined up an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports and last week Trump said he could raise tariffs on those products to 25 per cent instead of the previously touted 10 per cent.

Beijing has called on US officials to be “cool-headed”, but has warned it will retaliate against any tariffs with its own measures.

However, the US imports far more from China than it exports to it, meaning Beijing may at some point need to look for other means of retaliation.

The US-China trade war will cut the global gross domestic product by 0.7 per cent by 2020, Oxford Economics said in a note Tuesday.

AFP

Trump May Raise Tariffs Further On Chinese Goods – Reports

US President Donald Trump, with Vice President Mike Pence, speaks about the economy on the South Lawn of the White House on July 27, 2018, in Washington, DC. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump is now considering a 25 per cent tariff on $200 billion in Chinese imports, rather than the 10 per cent previously touted, reports said Tuesday.

The US imposed tariffs of 25 per cent on $34 billion of Chinese products earlier this month, with plans to add another $16 billion of imports on Tuesday.

Trump initially threatened to levy 10 per cent on an additional $200 billion but that figure may now rise to 25 per cent, sources told the Washington Post and Bloomberg.

It would represent a ramping up of pressure over Washington’s trade standoff with Beijing.

In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Wednesday that “blackmail and pressure from the US side will never work on China”.

“If the US takes measures to further escalate this situation, we will surely take counter-measures to firmly uphold our legitimate rights and interests,” he told a regular briefing.

In 2017 the United States had a $376 billion trade deficit with China, which it is keen to reduce.

Trump recently threatened to slap punitive tariffs on all Chinese exports to the US, which amounted to more than $500 billion last year.

AFP

Trump Threatens Fresh Tariffs Against China

China’s President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump. Photo: Nicolas ASFOURI / POOL / AFP

 

The United States and China have fired the next shots in their escalating trade war, with Washington threatening to impose fresh tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese goods and Beijing vowing to retaliate.

The latest moves in the ballooning trade conflict between the world’s top two economies came just days after tit-for-tat duties on $34 billion in goods came into effect.

Analysts have warned that spiralling trade tensions between the two powerhouses could have a damaging impact on the global economy and far-reaching consequences across the planet.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer late Tuesday accused China of retaliating to its tariffs “without any international legal basis or justification.”

President Donald Trump has therefore ordered the trade department to “begin the process of imposing tariffs of 10 percent on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports,” Lighthizer said in a statement.

Officials will hold hearings in late August on the list of targeted products and an administration official said it would take about two months to finalise, at which point Trump would decide whether to go ahead with the levies.

The eventual goal is to impose tariffs on 40 percent of Chinese imports, the same proportion of US goods hit by Beijing’s retaliation, an official told reporters.

If the measures are imposed, it would mean new taxes on thousands of products from fish to chemicals, metals and tires.

Reacting to the “totally unacceptable” Washington list, the commerce ministry in Beijing said it would be forced to take “countermeasures”.

“The behavior of the US is hurting China, hurting the world, and hurting itself,” the ministry said in a statement, saying it was “shocked” by the US actions.

“In order to safeguard the core interests of the country and the fundamental interests of the people, the Chinese government as always will have no choice but to take the necessary countermeasures,” it added.

Beijing said it would “immediately” tack on the case to its suit against Washington’s “unilateralist” behaviour at the World Trade Organization.

At a forum in Beijing, a senior official accused the US of “damaging the world economic order” and said tit-for-tat tariffs would “destroy” trade between the rival powers.

“The outburst of large-scale mutual levying of tariffs between China and the United States will inevitably destroy Sino-US trade,” said the assistant minister of commerce Li Chenggang.

The dispute comes on top of Washington’s confrontation with other allies and major trading partners including Canada, Mexico and the European Union, after it imposed steep tariffs on their steel and aluminum. Those nations have also retaliated.

The new trade frictions sent investors running for cover, with equity markets across Asia tumbling more than one percent.

 ‘Unfair practices’ 

The trade confrontation between Washington and Beijing has been escalating for months, despite Trump’s repeated statements that he has a good relationship with China’s President Xi Jinping.

China accused the US of starting “the largest trade war in economic history,” after the first round of tariffs took effect last week.

But Trump has said continuously that China has taken advantage of the US economy, and he has vowed to hit nearly all the country’s products with tariffs, as much as $450 billion.

The US trade deficit in goods with China ballooned to a record $375.2 billion last year, stoking his anger.

For now, the USTR continues to work on the process of finalising an additional $16 billion in goods to face 25-percent tariffs to bring the total up to $50 billion. Beijing has vowed to retaliate accordingly.

The new list of goods to face 10-percent punitive duties includes frozen meats, live and fresh fish and seafood, butter, onions, garlic and other vegetables, fruits, nuts, metals, and a massive list of chemicals, as well as tires, leather, fabrics, wood and paper.

The officials said they tried to target goods that would reduce the harm to US consumers.

They also said they remain open to working with China to try to resolve the dispute, but the response from Beijing so far has been unsatisfactory.

“For over a year, the Trump Administration has patiently urged China to stop its unfair practices, open its market, and engage in true market competition,” Lighthizer said.

“Unfortunately, China has not changed its behavior.”

But he added that “the United States is willing to engage in efforts that could lead to a resolution of our concerns.”

AFP

China Accuses Trump Of ‘Blackmail’ After New Tariffs Threat

China’s President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump. Photo: Nicolas ASFOURI / POOL / AFP

 

Beijing on Tuesday accused Donald Trump of “blackmail” and warned it would retaliate in kind after the US president threatened to impose fresh tariffs on Chinese goods, pushing the world’s two biggest economies closer to a trade war.

Trump said on Monday he had asked the US Trade Representative to target $200 billion worth of imports for a 10 percent levy, citing China’s “unacceptable” move to raise its own tariffs.

He added he would identify an extra $200 billion of goods — for a possible total of $450 billion, or most Chinese imports — “if China increases its tariffs yet again”.

“Further action must be taken to encourage China to change its unfair practices, open its market to United States goods and accept a more balanced trade relationship with the United States,” Trump said in a statement.

Last week, he announced 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports, prompting Beijing to retaliate with matching duties on US goods.

The US leader warned Friday of “additional tariffs” should Beijing hit back with tit-for-tat measures.

“The trade relationship between the United States and China must be much more equitable,” he said in explaining his latest decision.

“I have an excellent relationship with President Xi (Jinping), and we will continue working together on many issues. But the United States will no longer be taken advantage of on trade by China and other countries in the world.”

China’s commerce ministry immediately responded by saying the US “practice of extreme pressure and blackmail departed from the consensus reached by both sides during multiple negotiations and has also greatly disappointed international society”.

“If the US acts irrationally and issues a list, China will have no choice but to take comprehensive measures of a corresponding number and quality and take strong, powerful countermeasures.”

The news hit stock markets in Asia, where Shanghai shed three percent in the morning, Hong Kong lost more than two percent and Tokyo was one percent lower.

Trump is moving forward with the measures after months of sometimes fraught shuttle diplomacy in which Chinese offers to purchase more American goods failed to assuage his grievances over a widening trade imbalance and China’s aggressive industrial development policies.

China had offered to ramp up purchases of American goods by $70 billion to help cut its yawning trade surplus with the United States, whereas Trump had demanded a $200 billion deficit cut.

‘Unacceptable’ 

The China trade offensive is only one side of Trump’s multi-front battle with the United States’ economic partners as he presses ahead with his protectionist “America First” agenda.

Since June 1, steel and aluminium imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico have been hit with tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

“This latest action by China clearly indicates its determination to keep the United States at a permanent and unfair disadvantage, which is reflected in our massive $376 billion trade imbalance in goods,” Trump said of China’s retaliatory tariffs.

“This is unacceptable.”

Two decades ago, China’s economy was largely fuelled by exports, but it has made progress in rebalancing towards domestic investment and consumption since the global financial crisis erupted last decade — limiting the damage trade tariffs could inflict on Beijing.

Still, strong exports this year have lifted the economy, which is now showing signs of losing steam under the weight of Beijing’s war on debt, launched to clean up financial risks and rein in borrowing-fuelled growth.

Initially, 545 US products valued at $34 billion will be targeted by China, mimicking the Trump administration’s tariff rollout.

Beijing wants to “demonstrate that things will be done their way or not at all,” said Christopher Balding, an economics professor at Shenzhen’s HSBC Business School, who believes Chinese policymakers prefer demonstrations of “power and control” over “technical policy rightness.”

“It is a game of chicken,” Balding said.

So far Beijing has targeted major American exports to China such as soybeans, which brought in $14 billion in sales last year, and are grown in states that supported Trump during the 2016 presidential election, as well as other politically important products.

Officials also drew up a second list of $16 billion in chemical and energy products to hit with new tariffs, though China did not announce a date for imposing them.

More American targets are likely to follow as soon as the Trump administration follows through with publishing an expanded tariff list.

AFP

Trump To Delay EU Tariff Decision Until June

United States President Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. Mandel NGAN / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump has decided to push back his decision on whether to impose controversial tariffs on steel and aluminum from the European Union until June 1, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing a senior administration official.

The report came just hours before tariff exemptions were due to expire at midnight for the EU, Canada, Mexico and others, after which the major exporters would face punishing import duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

The postponement would effectively leave the exemptions in place.

Trump announced the tariffs on March 8, but exempted the European Union later that month.

The Trump administration has justified the tariffs — aimed primarily at Chinese overproduction — on national security grounds and told trading partners they must make concessions to win permanent exemptions.

The EU has insisted it will not negotiate without first obtaining a permanent exemption.

The US official, speaking to the Journal on condition of anonymity, also said that the Trump administration would announce later Monday it had reached a deal to exempt South Korea from the tariffs.

Trump is working with South Korean President Moon Jae-in ahead of the US leader’s expected summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in the coming weeks.

Last month, the government in Seoul said it had made concessions to secure a revised trade deal with Washington and escape its steel duties.

Extensions for Canada and Mexico had been expected, as Washington, Mexico City and Ottawa work on revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement.

AFP

Trump Denies Being At War With China Over Tariffs

FILE COPY United States’ President Donald Trump hosts a working lunch with the Baltic heads of state in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC.  Credit: Olivier Douliery / AFP

 

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said the United States is not in a trade war with China, as both sides shake global markets with tit-for-tat actions.

“We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S.,” Trump said in a morning tweet.

“Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue!”

The comments come after China unveiled plans to slap major US exports worth $50 billion — including soybeans, cars and small airplanes — with retaliatory tariffs.

The Chinese action was, in turn, in response to the Trump administration’s own $50-billion list of Chinese products that face US tariffs over Beijing’s alleged theft of intellectual property and technology.

The last month has seen the mercurial Republican leader rattle markets in announcing punishing new tariffs on exports from major trading partners, against warnings from industry groups and members of his own party.

AFP

China To Hit United States With Retaliatory Tariffs

China’s President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump. Photo: Nicolas ASFOURI / POOL / AFP

 

China Wednesday unveiled plans to hit major US exports such as soybeans, cars and small aircraft with retaliatory tariffs worth $50 billion in an escalating trade duel between the world’s two top economies.

The move came hours after President Donald Trump’s administration published its own $50 billion lists of Chinese products facing US tariffs because of Beijing’s alleged theft of intellectual property and technology.

The two powers have engaged in heated rhetoric and tit-for-tat actions that have raised the prospect of a trade war and rattled global markets.

Markets in Japan and Australia clung on to marginal gains Wednesday but China, Hong Kong and South Korea dipped into the red ahead of Beijing’s announcement.

Trump took to Twitter following Beijing’s action, blaming previous US administrations for the US trade deficit and intellectual property “theft” by China.

“We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the US,” Trump tweeted. “We cannot let this continue!”

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China remains open to talks, “but the opportunity for consultation and negotiation has been missed by the US side time and again”.

“The US side should not try to threaten China in a condescending way. We should have given and taken, instead of threatening the others senselessly,” Geng told reporters before Beijing announced the tariff plan.

“Any attempt to bring China to its knees through threats and intimidation will never succeed. It will not succeed this time either.”

The Chinese commerce ministry unveiled a list of 106 products,  including chemical goods, frozen beef and whiskey, that will be hit by duties of 25 percent, though it did not announce a date for their implementation.

A third of all US soybean exports go to China in sales worth $14 billion last year, and the crop is grown in rural states that voted for Trump in the 2016 election.

The tariffs also target planes that weigh no more than 45,000 kg — smaller than the major commercial jets made by Boeing.

The targeted planes would include private jets like the Gulfstream V and others that have been snapped up by China’s elite.

Taken together the $100 billion worth of targeted goods represents a good portion of the $580 billion in two-way trade recorded last year.

When asked about Trump’s demand for China to lower its trade surplus with the US by $100 billion, vice commerce minister Wang Shouwen told reporters China “can’t accept this, foremost because it’s impossible to do”.

Beijing also launched a dispute settlement procedure at the World Trade Organization on Wednesday, the commerce ministry said in a separate statement, adding that Washington had committed a “flagrant violation of WTO rules”.

China’s newly unveiled tariffs come after Beijing imposed duties on about $3 billion on US exports such as pork, wine and fruit on Monday in response to earlier US tariffs on steel and aluminium.

The US followed on Tuesday with its $50 billion list, which includes imports like electronics, aircraft parts, satellites, medicine, machinery and other goods.

The proposed list targets “products that benefit from China’s industrial plans while minimising the impact on the US economy”, the office of US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.

It identifies roughly 1,300 goods that could face duties of 25 percent but remains subject to a review process that will last until at least May before it can take effect.

Mixed feelings 

Over the last month, Trump has shaken markets and disregarded warnings from industry groups and members of his own Republican party in announcing punishing new tariffs on exports from major trading partners.

The move toward trade sanctions on China, however, had received a mixed response, with some support among lawmakers and industry bodies.

The US-China Business Council said it agreed that US companies suffer forced technology transfer in China — but warned against tariffs.

“The American business community wants to see solutions to these problems, not just sanctions,” John Frisbie, the council’s president, said in a statement.

“China needs to substantially improve market access and competitive conditions for American companies selling to and investing in China in certain sectors, but unilateral tariffs may do more harm than good.”

General trade tensions had calmed in recent days, with investors taking some solace from 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 renewed threats to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement — another trade bugbear which he has denounced as a killer of US jobs.

Wednesday unveiled plans to hit major US exports such as soybeans, cars and small aircraft with retaliatory tariffs worth $50 billion in an escalating trade duel between the world’s two top economies.

The move came hours after President Donald Trump’s administration published its own $50 billion lists of Chinese products facing US tariffs because of Beijing’s alleged theft of intellectual property and technology.

The two powers have engaged in heated rhetoric and tit-for-tat actions that have raised the prospect of a trade war and rattled global markets.

Markets in Japan and Australia clung on to marginal gains Wednesday but China, Hong Kong and South Korea dipped into the red ahead of Beijing’s announcement.

Trump took to Twitter following Beijing’s action, blaming previous US administrations for the US trade deficit and intellectual property “theft” by China.

“We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the US,” Trump tweeted. “We cannot let this continue!”

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China remains open to talks, “but the opportunity for consultation and negotiation has been missed by the US side time and again”.

“The US side should not try to threaten China in a condescending way. We should have given and taken, instead of threatening the others senselessly,” Geng told reporters before Beijing announced the tariff plan.

“Any attempt to bring China to its knees through threats and intimidation will never succeed. It will not succeed this time either.”

The Chinese commerce ministry unveiled a list of 106 products,  including chemical goods, frozen beef and whiskey, that will be hit by duties of 25 percent, though it did not announce a date for their implementation.

A third of all US soybean exports go to China in sales worth $14 billion last year, and the crop is grown in rural states that voted for Trump in the 2016 election.

The tariffs also target planes that weigh no more than 45,000 kg — smaller than the major commercial jets made by Boeing.

The targeted planes would include private jets like the Gulfstream V and others that have been snapped up by China’s elite.

Taken together the $100 billion worth of targeted goods represents a good portion of the $580 billion in two-way trade recorded last year.

When asked about Trump’s demand for China to lower its trade surplus with the US by $100 billion, vice commerce minister Wang Shouwen told reporters China “can’t accept this, foremost because it’s impossible to do”.

Beijing also launched a dispute settlement procedure at the World Trade Organization on Wednesday, the commerce ministry said in a separate statement, adding that Washington had committed a “flagrant violation of WTO rules”.

China’s newly unveiled tariffs come after Beijing imposed duties on about $3 billion on US exports such as pork, wine and fruit on Monday in response to earlier US tariffs on steel and aluminium.

The US followed on Tuesday with its $50 billion list, which includes imports like electronics, aircraft parts, satellites, medicine, machinery and other goods.

The proposed list targets “products that benefit from China’s industrial plans while minimising the impact on the US economy”, the office of US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement.

It identifies roughly 1,300 goods that could face duties of 25 percent but remains subject to a review process that will last until at least May before it can take effect.

AFP

Trump Tariffs Trigger Republican Rebellion

 

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), (C), speaks to the media while flanked by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), (R), and House Majority Whip, Steve Scalise (R-LA) (L), after a meeting with House Republicans on Capitol Hill, on March 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. 
MARK WILSON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

The rebellion is swelling among members of the US Congress’s Republican majority dismayed over Donald Trump’s contentious new trade tariffs, with many elected officials threatening to block the president’s decree.

The US leader has triggered howls of protest in his own camp by slapping tariffs of 25 percent on imports of steel and 10 percent on aluminum on Thursday, with only Canada and Mexico exempt for the time being.

Historically proponents of free trade, several Republicans dubbed the measures “stupid” and “misguided” — if the United States increases the cost of both materials, they hold, American producers of vehicles and other products will suffer setbacks on the international playing field, and consumers will pay more.

Trump moreover found little support among Democrats, even though that party is historically more protectionist.

In the Senate, Republicans are opposing the duties en masse, with Senator Jeff Flake already preparing a bill to “nullify these tariffs.”

His colleague Mike Lee, of the ultra-conservative Tea Party, immediately claimed congressional powers as defined in the Constitution’s first article — which says the power to tax belongs to the legislature — promising “to make sure these tax hikes are never enforced.”

And with midterm elections looming, the extraordinary backlash from the president’s Republican Party sets up a showdown between the chief executive and his own majority lawmakers.

Two-thirds majority

Just a few months after he helped drive Trump’s landmark tax reform through Congress, Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, expressed astonishment at the president’s decision.

“I think there’s a good chance that we will nullify the tariffs,” he told reporters.

“I generally support the president on just about everything, but I think he’s been misled, there are some people down there who have been misleading him on some of these things,” Hatch continued.

“I’m disappointed because we just passed a tax bill and this kind of flies in the face of that. It’s something I’m very upset about.”

Members of the US Congress’s Republican majority are dismayed over Donald Trump’s contention new trade tariffs. PHOTO: MANDEL NGAN / AFP

Congress now has several options: it could pass a law taking back from Trump powers regarding commercial matters, which have been doled out to the White House progressively since the 1930s for purposes of efficiency.In the case of these tariffs, the Republican leader used a 1962 law authorizing the president to tax certain imports in the name of national security protection — legislation rarely invoked in the past except in the notable case of oil.

Many Republicans hold that imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum are an abuse of this law and are pushing to restrict it.

Another law grants extensive powers to the president to negotiate trade agreements, allowing some 15 accords to be struck since 1979.

The latest version of this law, adopted under Barack Obama in 2015, will expire in July of this year unless Trump requests an extension until 2021.

Even then, Congress will have the opportunity to oppose the extension by passing a resolution of disapproval.

As Trump vows to sign new bilateral treaties and amend the North American Free Trade Agreement, congressional leaders could seize the moment to reaffirm their role in US trade policy.

For now, the top leadership has voiced a preference to collaborate with the administration to adjust and reduce the tariffs as much as possible, holding off on announcing a law.

Whatever Washington lawmakers opt to do, they will have to reach a two-thirds majority vote to overcome a presidential veto — forcing Republicans to find support among the Democratic opposition, a challenge in its own right.

AFP

South Korea’s Moon Urges ‘Stern’ Response To New United States Tariffs

US President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-In during a joint press conference at the presidential Blue House in Seoul 
Jim WATSON / AFP

 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in called Monday for a “stern” response to new US tariffs on the South’s exports as concern grew over looming trade restrictions by Washington.

US President Donald Trump last week threatened retaliatory action against China and South Korea and vowed to revise or scrap a 2012 free trade deal with the South which he described as a “disaster”.

Trump also put his “America First” doctrine into action last month by imposing duties of 20 to 50 percent on large washing machines made in nations including the South, as well as tariffs on solar panels imported from China and elsewhere.

Seoul has said it would take the issue to the World Trade Organization while Beijing expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with the move, adopted to protect US manufacturers.

The trade frictions have strained ties at a time when Seoul and Washington are seeking to present a united front against North Korea’s nuclear threat.

Moon, at a meeting with aides, expressed concern over “intensifying protectionism” that may take a toll on the South’s export-reliant economy — also the world’s 11th largest.

“I am concerned that widening restrictions by the US on our exports, including steel, electronics, solar panels and washing machines, may take a toll on the exports despite their global competitiveness,” he said.

“I’d like (officials) to respond to unreasonable protectionist measures in a confident and stern manner by… reviewing whether the measures violate the current Korea-US free trade pact,” he said.

Moon also urged officials to “actively argue the unfairness” of the tariffs when renegotiating the bilateral free trade deal.

Moon’s comments also came days after the US Commerce Department recommended hefty new tariffs on steel imports from countries including the South.

The US trade deficit — which Trump has vowed repeatedly to fix — widened even further during his first year in office, up 12 percent to $566 billion.

The Trump administration last July initiated talks to renegotiate the free trade pact with Seoul, arguing it was lopsided because America’s bilateral trade deficit had ballooned under it.

Two previous rounds of talks made little progress and Seoul’s chief trade negotiator Kim Hyun-chong said at the time there was “a long way to go”.

The next round of negotiations is scheduled in Washington next month.

AFP

NCC Slashes Call Tariffs

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has released new set of interconnection rates for voice services.

This can be seen as the desired response of many Nigerians, in line with complaints made over the high tariffs charged by these telecoms operators in the country.

The Director of Public Affairs, Mr Tony Ojobo told a news conference in Abuja that the new rates which takes effect from 1st April and will last for the next three years and will significantly favour subscribers.

The review, which will start from April 1, 2013, was agreed on after comprehensive consultations with various stakeholders, the NCC said in a statement on Thursday.

“The new termination rates, which significantly reviewed prices downwards, are informed by the depth of competition in the industry, while taking into consideration the position of new entrants and small operators,” the commission said in the statement.

According to NCC, the termination rates for voice services provided by new entrants and small operators in Nigeria irrespective of the originating network shall be N6.40 from April 1, 2013; N5.20 from April 1, 2014; and N3.90 from April 1, 2015.

The termination rates for voice services provided by other operators irrespective of the originating network shall be N4.90 from April 1, 2013; N4.40 from April 1, 2014; and N3.90 from April 1, 2015.

The current rate, which is symmetric to all operators, is N8.2.

For new entrants and small operators, the tariff drop will be by 21.95 per cent from April 1 this year, while for other operators, the drop will be by 40.2 per cent.

“This determination shall take effect from April 1, 2013, and remain valid and binding on licensees for the next three years until further reviewed by the commission,” the NCC maintained.

According to the NCC, a new entrant is a newly licensed operator entering an existing or new market within zero and three years, while a small operator, for the purpose of the determination, is an existing operator with a market share of zero to 7.5 per cent in terms of subscriber base.

It will be recalled that the current interconnection rate regulation was implemented through the NCC Interconnection Rate Determination issued on December 21, 2009. Since then, the Nigerian communications market has seen tremendous growth in both, subscriber numbers as well as traffic volumes and available technologies.

In June 2012, the commission appointed Price Water House Coopers (PWC) to undertake a cost study for voice interconnection.

In line with its commitment to a policy of openness, transparency, fairness, and participatory regulation, the commission informed stakeholders in July 2012 of its engagement of PWC to advise on the review of interconnection rates for mobile and fixed telephony services.

After series of meetings with operators and other stakeholders, PWC provided the commission with recommendations related to the regulation of voice interconnection.