Monday, 20 May, 2019

EU's trade chief questions rationale of Trump steel measures

New Trump tariff threat overshadows strong China factory investment data New Trump tariff threat overshadows strong China factory investment data
Patty Aguilar | 15 March, 2018, 05:28

China now runs a $375 billion trade surplus with the US and Trump asked President Xi Xinping's economic advisers how to reduce this disparity during Xinping's recent visit. A source told Reuters that the tariffs could come "in the very near future" and could include up to 100 products, also outside of the tech sector.

Trump is targeting Chinese high technology companies to punish China for its investment policies that effectively force United States companies to give up their technology secrets in exchange for being allowed to operate in the country, as well as for other IP practices Washington considers unfair.

"We're not talking about fancy cashmere sweaters, we're talking about cotton T-Shirts and jeans and shoes that kids wear for back-to-school", she added.

European countries, many of which are North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, argue that they should also be exempt, and EU officials including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker have said that retaliatory tariffs include measures against classic American products such as bourbon.

China has a trade surplus of more than $375 billion with the USA and when the lead economic adviser for President Xi Jinping recently visited Washington, the administration pushed him to give them a way China could reduce that number.

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Trudeau discussed with the trump of duty
While the penalties take effect later this month, Trump has encouraged countries to try negotiating exemptions for themselves. Trump said he is optimistic there will be a NAFTA deal, "I have a feeling we are going to make a deal on NAFTA".

Trump was elected on a protectionist agenda, and in the previous year he has pulled the USA out of the 14-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and started talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.

In the last few days, China has warned USA of retaliation. At the meeting, the US Permanent Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer presented to the head of state proposals for customs duties that affect imports worth 30 billion Dollars per year.

China reported its 2017 US trade surplus as $276 billion, also about two thirds of its reported global surplus of $422.5 billion.

At a meeting last week, Trump told Cabinet members and aides that he wanted to hit China hard over its alleged theft of American intellectual property, according to Politico, which cited three people with knowledge of the matter. "He's serious about calling their hand on this, and my understanding is they are looking at a broad array of options to do that", U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said to reporters.

The United States is expected to invoke a national security exception to WTO rules in imposing import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum announced by Trump last week.

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