Products hit by US-China trade tensions

US soybean producers will be a prominent casualty if China goes forward with tariffs in response to US measures
AFP

Paris (AFP) – Steel, soybeans, aircraft… The list of products hit by trade tensions between the United States and China increases almost daily.

US President Donald Trump, who has vowed repeatedly to reduce the trade deficit, began a series of announcement of tariffs.

The US trade deficit with China rose to $375 billion in 2017 out of a total of $566 billion. 

Some measures have come into effect while others are in waiting, with both Washington and Beijing having detailed plans to levy charges on goods worth $50 billion.

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump threatened to impose duties on another $100 billion of Chinese imports.

Here is an overview of the main products targeted in the escalating trade duel between the world’s two top economies.

– Steel and aluminium –

On March 8, Trump signed an order to impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminium, citing national security concerns. 

The tariffs came into effect on March 23. 

Some countries were exempted, at least temporarily, but not China.

China is the world’s top producer of steel and aluminium, but it accounts for only 2 percent of steel imports into the United States and 10 percent of aluminium.

– Intellectual property –

Trump also accuses China of unfair competition and stealing US intellectual property in the form of its inventions and innovation.

On March 23, the United States launched a challenge at the World Trade Organization against China over intellectual property breaches.

Foreign companies have long complained about Beijing’s failure to protect know-how and patents, in some cases forcing firms to share information with domestic partners as the price for doing business in the massive Chinese market.

In August 2017 Washington formally started a trade investigation into China’s intellectual property practices and the forced transfer of US technology under Section 301 of US trade law, which addresses intellectual property.

– Industrial products –

On April 3, Washington announced a provisional list of Chinese imports that would be subject to new duties, targeting products from various sectors including aeronautics, information and communication technologies, and robotics and machinery. 

A few hours after the publication of the US target list, Beijing announced duties of 25 percent on the US aeronautics and automobile sectors.

In the aeronautics sector, the tariffs target planes weighing no more than 45,000 kg — smaller than the long-range commercial jets made by Boeing, but the fate of medium-range 737 jets is left uncertain. Boeing says it is “confident that dialogue continues”.

– Agricultural products –

In its response Beijing also targets soybeans with duties of 25 percent, an action aimed the heart of the US economy because China buys 61 percent of total US soybean exports and more than 30 percent of overall US production of this cereal.

The measure constitutes an electoral risk for Trump as he approaches mid-term elections, as soybeans are cultivated in states that voted for him in 2016, including Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

China had already announced duties of 15 to 25 percent on US agricultural products with little strategic importance, such as fresh fruit, pork and Californian wine.

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