China responds in-kind to Trump’s tariff announcement

China has responded to US President Donald Trump’s announcement of tariffs on $50 billion of imports by released a detailed list that could end up hurting the commodity producers of the American heartland.

China released the list early Saturday thereby raising the possibility that US would go ahead and impose more duties.

The US Trade Representative’s final list includes 1,102 product lines, down from about 1,300 initially, mainly focused on China’s Made In 2025 plan to become dominant in high-technology industries such as robotics, aerospace, industrial machinery and automobiles. Consumer goods including mobile phones and televisions aren’t being subjected to the tariffs.

In response China’s Finance Ministry issued a list of 545 product categories, also covering about $34 billion in exports from the US, to be subject to an additional 25 per cent tariff starting July 6. They included a variety of agricultural products, including soybeans, corn and wheat along with beef, pork and poultry, plus automobiles. A second set of tariffs to begin at a later date covered other goods including coal, crude oil, gasoline and medical equipment.

For now, weeks of shuttle diplomacy between Washington and Beijing, in an effort to reduce China’s massive goods trade surplus with the US, have produced nothing — and the very products that China had pledged to buy more of will now be slapped with higher import duties instead.

The US imported $506 billion of goods from China last year and exported about $130 billion, leaving a 2017 deficit of $376 billion, according to government figures.

The Chinese list released Saturday covers almost all farm products imported from the US, said Li Qiang, chief analyst with Shanghai JC Intelligence Co. Ltd.

“Given China’s big trade surplus with the US, it will be more difficult and complicated for China” in the future to retaliate if the Trump administration expands the tariffs to more products, said Li. The new list includes more agricultural products, including dairy, alfalfa and seafood, than an initial group published in April.