WASHINGTON/BEIJING: China’s government has criticized the latest US threat of a tariff hike as “totally unacceptable” and vowed to retaliate in their escalating trade war.
The Commerce Ministry on Wednesday gave no details, but Beijing responded to last week’s US tariff hike on $34 billion of imports from China by increasing its own duties on the same amount of American goods.
The US Trade Representative’s office announced a $200 billion list on Wednesday of Chinese goods for possible 10 percent tariffs including fish, apples and burglar alarms.
A Commerce Ministry statement said, “It is totally unacceptable for American side to publish a tariff list in a way that is accelerating and escalating.” It said, “the Chinese government will be forced to impose necessary countermeasures” to protect its “core interests.”
US officials issued a list of thousands of Chinese imports the Trump administration wants to hit with the new tariffs, including hundreds of food products as well as tobacco, chemicals, coal, steel and aluminum.
It also includes consumer goods ranging from car tires, furniture, wood products, handbags and suitcases, to dog and cat food, baseball gloves, carpets, doors, bicycles, skis, golf bags, toilet paper and beauty products.
“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,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in announcing the proposed tariffs.
“Rather than address our legitimate concerns, China has begun to retaliate against US products … There is no justification for such action,” he said in a statement.
Last week, Washington imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports, and Beijing responded immediately with matching tariffs on the same amount of US exports to China. Each side is mulling tariffs on a further $16 billion in goods that would bring the totals to $50 billion.
Investors fear an escalating trade war between the world’s two biggest economies could hit global growth.
US President Donald Trump has said he may ultimately impose tariffs on more than $500 billion worth of Chinese goods — roughly the total amount of US imports from China last year.
The new list published on Tuesday targets many more consumer goods than those covered under the tariffs imposed last week, raising the direct threat to consumers and retail firms and increasing the stakes for lawmakers in Trump’s Republican party facing elections in November.
The list is subject to a two-month public comment period before taking effect.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a senior member of Trump’s Republican Party, said the announcement “appears reckless and is not a targeted approach.”
The US Chamber of Commerce has supported Trump’s domestic tax cuts and efforts to reduce regulation of businesses, but it has been critical of Trump’s aggressive tariff policies.
“Tariffs are taxes, plain and simple. Imposing taxes on another $200 billion worth of products will raise the costs of every day goods for American families, farmers, ranchers, workers, and job creators. It will also result in retaliatory tariffs, further hurting American workers,” a Chamber spokeswoman said.
The Retail Industry Leaders Association, a lobby group representing the largest US retailers, said: “The president has broken his promise to bring ‘maximum pain on China, minimum pain on consumers.’”
“American families are the ones being punished. Consumers, businesses and the American jobs dependent on trade, are left in the crosshairs of an escalating global trade war,” said Hun Quach, the head of international trade policy for the group.