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China unveils list of potential retaliatory tariffs on USA goods

25 March 2018

The country's Commerce Ministry said Friday that the proposed trade sanctions would target US-made products ranging from pork to steel pipes.

That development, investors say, is due to fears of a global trade war erupting on the back of tariffs and talk of further protectionist measures from the USA administration.

The new trade war announced by US President Donald Trump is seeing some immediate and effective blowback in the form of a refusal by Beijing to lift its ban on the import of foreign garbage. He exempted some countries pending negotiations and gave the immediate green light for others, like China.

The news sent equities tumbling. The S&P 500 decreased 6.93 points, or 0.26 per cent, to 2,636.76.

Tokyo's main Nikkei share index was down more than 4 percent Friday, while share indexes in Shanghai and Seoul fell by more than 3 percent, following similar declines on Wall Street overnight.

"China doesn't hope to be in a trade war, but is not afraid of engaging in one", the Chinese commerce ministry responded in a statement.

No tariffs have been collected yet, as measures in both China and the US are subject to further negotiation and public consultation. The WTO has repeatedly drawn the ire of the administration but it could provide a resolution that avoids a trade war.

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Other American products like pork and recycled aluminum goods are at risk of a 25 percent tariff, according to the Chinese commerce ministry. The proposed product list will include items in aerospace, information and communication technology and machinery.

On the economic front, the U.S. new orders for manufactured durable goods in February increased $7.4 billion, or 3.1 per cent, to $247.7 billion, the Commerce Department said on Friday.

'No use to anyone' The climbdown came as Trump announced new sanctions against China for what he called the theft of USA intellectual property - which Beijing has vowed to meet with tit-for-tat retaliation.

The ministry said the list was aimed at offsetting the losses incurred from U.S. tariffs on steel and imports, which are due to take effect on Friday.

In a statement, the USTR said China also appears to be breaking WTO rules by imposing mandatory adverse contract terms that discriminate against and are less favorable for imported foreign technology.

His closest economic advisers and surrogates keep telling the public not to fear a trade war.

Investors have long toasted the U.S. stock market boom that emerged from the depths of the 2008 financial crisis, but one of the bull market's most vocal and visible cheerleaders has abruptly fallen silent: the U.S. President. Even smaller-scale trade actions like Obama's tariffs on tires or Bush's on steel yielded more job losses than gains, studies have found. "A number of participants reported about their conversations with business leaders around the country and reported that trade policy has become a concern", Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said this week, while cautioning that trade issues haven't changed the Fed's outlook. The president also directed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to propose new investment restrictions on Chinese companies within 60 days to safeguard technologies the USA views as strategic.

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Trump has gone further than most business leaders and Republicans in Congress thought he would on trade. That effectively creates room for potential talks to address Trump's allegations on intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers.

"The upshot is that today's (U.S.) tariffs amount to no more than a slap on the wrist for China", Mark Williams, Chief Asia Economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note. "Worries about escalation therefore won't go away".

"Compared to a world with no trade, median-income consumers in the United States gain an estimated 29 per cent of their purchasing power from trade (according to a 2015 study)", it said.

The tensions reflect the dueling nationalistic ambitions of Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

"Hearing all this noise of late, sometimes makes me think of what Confucius said: 'The gentleman is easy of mind, while the small man is always full of anxiety, '" Hua said.

China and the US had benefitted by globalisation, Blackrock's Larry Fink said at the forum. Trade experts estimate that the new USA import taxes could be valued at up to $60 billion. "That process has failed".

The US dollar, meanwhile, dropped below ¥105 for the first time since Trump was elected president in November 2016, while the greenback was also down against the euro. "'We will end up negotiating these things rather than fighting over them, in my view", Ross said. After a final list is published, there will be another 30 days of consultations.

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The World Trade Organization is not only a forum for nations to negotiate trade deals, but it is also acts as a court to resolve trade disputes.

China unveils list of potential retaliatory tariffs on USA goods