United States to impose tariffs on $200 billion Chinese imports

A Maersk container ship is guided by a tug boat in New York Harbor in New York City US. Brendan McDermid Reuters

A Maersk container ship is guided by a tug boat in New York Harbor in New York City US. Brendan McDermid Reuters

The Wall Street Journal, citing "people with knowledge of the previous rounds of negotiations" said the offer made by China so far, "whether they are increasing purchases of USA products or the gradual opening of financial-services sector" had "failed to solve Washington's demands for deeper structural changes".

The prospect of a 10 percent tariff on Chinese furniture imports sent shares of online home store WayFair Inc down 2.9 percent, while shares of Restoration Hardware tumbled 4.3 percent.

Faced with USTR's latest announcement, China was "shocked". "Rather than altering those practices, it is now threatening United States companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong". Beijing is running out of American goods for retaliatory tariffs due to its lopsided trade balance, which means it might impose other measures.

The measure is a significant escalation of the conflict and easily tops the $50 billion in tariffs that the two countries have so far levied on each other, or are about to levy. The tariffs announced Tuesday would be the third wave.

One problem for Beijing is that it imports far less from the USA than it exports - much to the annoyance of Donald Trump - and that gives it less scope to retaliate - they may run out of American goods to penalise.

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The United States remains willing to engage in negotiations with China on the issues at hand, he added.

U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping arrive for a state dinner at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on November 9, 2017. "They have never been tested this way", a USA industry source told Reuters, asking to not be named given the sensitivity of the matter.

The main demand of the U.S., which was set out in a statement issued on May 4, is that China cease its attempt to develop its technological and industrial base under its "Made in China 2025" plan.

In Brussels, a top European Commission official, Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, said he was "concerned" about an "immediate economic impact" from not only the latest tensions but also about a broader unravelling of the multilateral trading system. However, analysts say there's little chance China will back down on the plan, which it considers crucial for developing its huge economy.

Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan consented that China is indeed playing unfairly but said that, "I don't think tariffs are the right way to go".

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It wasn't immediately clear how China would respond to the new tariff list.

"The $200 billion figure we're looking at is roughly equal to their exports to us", a senior administration official said.

Trump has said the European Union is "possibly nearly as bad as China" when it comes to trade, as a raft of retaliatory tariffs from Brussels came into effect on June 22.

Jack Gerard, Cal Dooley, and Edward R. Hamberger-the president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council, and president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads, respectively-wrote in an opinion piece in the Washington Examiner published on Wednesday that the trade war is threatening the US economy and could add "hundreds of billions of dollars in potential costs for American businesses - costs that could ultimately be borne by consumers".

Tuesday's announcement was met with backlash from some quarters.

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Senate finance committee chairman Orrin Hatch also expressed alarm. "Tariffs ultimately are taxes on American consumers that limit choice". There might even be a temporary boost to second quarter data, as exporters may have attempted to sell more before the imposition of tariffs.

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