U.S. President Donald Trump is going ahead with 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese technology imports, intensifying a trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.
Trump on Friday followed through on a pledge to crack down on what he considers to be unfair trade practices by China, imposing tariffs on goods that “contain industrially significant technologies.”
“These tariffs are essential to preventing further unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China, which will protect American jobs,” Trump said in a statement issued by the White House.
A spokesperson from China’s Ministry of Commerce said the U.S. has “ignited a trade war.”
“We will immediately take tariff measures of the same scale and intensity. All economic and trade outcomes of previous talks will now lose effect,” Chinese state media Xinhua News Agency quoted the spokesperson Friday.
China has also compiled a list of $50 billion in U.S. products that would face retaliatory tariffs, including agricultural products that could potentially harm Trump’s large voter base in rural areas.
Meantime, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published a list of 1,102 Chinese imports that will be subject to additional duties.
“It generally focuses on products from industrial sectors that contribute to or benefit from the “Made in China 2025” industrial policy, which include industries such as aerospace, information and communications technology, robotics, industrial machinery, new materials, and automobiles,” USTR announced in a statement Friday.
The list does not include cellular telephones or televisions, which are often purchased by American consumers.
The additional tariffs will be implemented in two stages. The first set of tariffs contains 818 of the original 1,333 products included on the proposed list published in April, and covers about $34 billion worth of Chinese imports. USTR said Customs and Border Protection would begin collecting the additional duties on July 6.
The second set of 284 newly proposed products, covering about $16 billion worth of Chinese imports, are identified as benefiting from China’s “Made in China 2025” industrial policy. These products will undergo further review in a public notice and comment process, after which USTR will issue a final determination.
Trump had a telephone conversation Friday with French President Emmanuel Macron that dealt with trade, among other topics. In that exchange, Trump “called on the European Union to enter into negotiations to reduce trade barriers,” according to a White House statement.
In an interview Friday with Fox News, Trump reiterated that while Chinese President Xi Jinping is his “friend,” a “great man” and a “wonderful guy,” the United States needs to “straighten out” trade deficit with China and protect America’s technological innovations.
“So much of our secrets, you know we have the great brain power in Silicon Valley, and China and others steal those secrets, and we’re going to protect those secrets, those are crown jewels for this country,” Trump said.
Critics cautioned Trump’s decision could spark a trade war between Beijing and Washington, but the American president said the war was lost years ago.
“The trade war was started many years ago by them, and the United States lost. There’s no trade war, they’ve taken so much,” Trump contended in the Fox News interview.
Trump previously imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Europe, Japan, Mexico, a move that drew strong rebukes from U.S. allies.
Wayne Lee contributed.