Date
22 April 2018
Several large US retailers, including Wal-Mart, have written a letter to Donald Trump urging him not to impose massive tariffs on goods imported from China. Photo: Bloomberg
Several large US retailers, including Wal-Mart, have written a letter to Donald Trump urging him not to impose massive tariffs on goods imported from China. Photo: Bloomberg

Trump’s China tariffs may be unveiled by Friday: report

The Trump administration is expected to unveil up to US$60 billion in new tariffs on Chinese imports by Friday, targeting a range of items including technology and telecoms products, Reuters reports, citing unidentified officials briefed on the matter.

According to one source, the tariffs may be subject to a public comment period, which would delay their effective date and allow industry groups and companies to lodge objections, the report said.

This would be considerably different from the quick implementation of the steel and aluminum tariffs, which are set to go into effect on March 23, just 15 days after President Donald Trump signed the proclamations.

A delayed approach could allow time for negotiations with Beijing to try to resolve trade issues related to the administration’s “Section 301” probe into China’s intellectual property practices before tariffs take effect.

A source who had direct knowledge of the administration’s thinking told Reuters last week that the tariffs, authorized under the 1974 US Trade Act, would be chiefly targeted at IT, consumer electronics and telecoms and other products benefiting from US intellectual property.

But they could be much broader and hit consumer products such as clothing and footwear, with a list eventually running to 100 products, according to the latest report.

China runs a US$375 billion trade surplus with the US. The Trump administration has been pressing Beijing to come up with a way of reducing that number.

In January, Trump told Reuters he was considering a big “fine” as part of a probe into China’s alleged theft of intellectual property. Trump said the Chinese government had forced US companies to transfer their intellectual property to China as a cost of doing business there.

Expectations of the anti-China tariffs have alarmed dozens of US business groups, which warned on Sunday they would raise prices for consumers, kill jobs and drive down financial markets.

On Monday, US retailers voiced concern that Trump’s plan for tariffs on Chinese goods will result in higher consumer prices.

Several large US retail companies, including Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and Macy’s, sent Trump a letter urging him not to impose massive tariffs on goods imported from China.

In a separate letter to Trump on Monday, 82 shoe companies, including Nike, Genesco and Under Armour, echoed those concerns.

“Applying any additional broad-based tariff … would punish American working families with higher prices on household basics like clothing, shoes, electronics, and home goods,” the retailers said.

The footwear companies argued that shoes already are subject to hefty tariffs.

“Adding even more tariffs on top of this heavy burden would mean higher costs for footwear consumers and fewer US jobs,” the letter stated.

Meanwhile, at the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires, world financial leaders on Monday pleaded for an endorsement of free trade amid worries about US metals tariffs and looming trade sanctions on China.

Trade dominated the discussions at the meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors of the world’s 20 biggest economies after Trump on March 8 announced global tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

G20 officials fretted about the dangers that a potential trade war posed to world economic growth.

“The first risk is the risk of inward looking policies and protectionism,” European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici told reporters after the first day of talks. 

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CG/RC

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