Monday, 19 November, 2018

European Union to join Trump in criticising China's role in global trade

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Cristina Norman | 15 July, 2018, 13:03

In response to Trump's tariffs on Friday, China released a tariff list that will apply to $34 billion worth of United States exports to China.

When asked what Beijing would do, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying gave no details but said: "We will take firm and forceful measures". "The Chinese government as always will have no choice but to take the necessary countermeasures", it said.

S&P 500 and Dow futures dropped around 1 percent, pointing to a weak opening on Wall Street later on Wednesday.

The new tariff will go into effect in August after going through a process of public comment and review and a public hearing, which is scheduled for August.

The list of new tariff targets from the US Trade Representative includes vacuum cleaners, furniture, and auto and bicycle parts, but US-branded smartphones and laptops were excluded.

US President Donald Trump's assault on China's trade policies will garner several high-profile advocates on Wednesday, as some of the world's largest commercial regions will meet in Geneva to thresh out the ramifications of Beijing's entrance into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) 17 years ago.

The United States had just imposed tariffs on US$34 billion worth of Chinese goods on Friday, drawing immediate retaliatory duties from Beijing on USA imports in the first shots of a heated trade war.

China imported only 130 billion dollars in goods from the USA previous year, but it could retaliate against the U.S. through other means including regulatory moves and investigations of United States companies.

The dollar was buoyant, supported by mounting trade tensions and Wednesday's strong USA inflation data. "It has to resolutely fight back while taking proper measures to help minimize the cost to domestic enterprises and further open up its economy to global investors", it said.

Hong Kong's main index shed 1.3 percent. Before now, the administration had deliberately avoided imposing tariffs on consumer goods in order to spare US shoppers from direct economic pain.

The onshore yuan tracked its offshore counterpart lower with traders closely watching the key 6.7 per dollar level as pressure mounted on the currency.

Some American business groups and senior lawmakers sharply criticized the latest action on Tuesday, with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a Republican, saying it "appears reckless and is not a targeted approach".

The tariffs will not be imposed until after a two-month period of public comment on the proposed list, but some USA business groups and senior lawmakers were quick to criticize the move.

Stephen Holmes, a spokesman for the Home Depot, said some of the products on the list - like lumber and carpet - won't affect his company because it receives most of those from the USA and Canada.

China's exports have mushroomed since it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, making it the world's second-largest economy and prompting widening criticism in recent years from trading partners that it has unfairly used global trade rules to its advantage. He said that "must be addressed" by the trade body or others.

The Aussie, considered a liquid proxy for China-related trades, fell 0.5 per cent against the dollar to US$0.7422. The policy of tit-for-tat tariffs will "destroy" trade between the world's top two economies, China's assistant minister of commerce, Li Chenggang, told a forum in Beijing.

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