US President Donald Trump has said that US tariffs could be applied to more than $500 billion worth of Chinese goods, just two weeks after he announced a 25% tariff on $50 billion of goods from China.
The $500 billion figure equates to approximately the total amount of US imports from China last year, and China has reportedly said it has no choice but to respond in kind.
Trump made the announcement to reporters yesterday, as reported by Reuters.
On June 15, the US said that it would implement a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of goods from China that contain industrially significant technology, “in light of China’s theft of IP and technology and its other unfair trade practices”.
Tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese products became effective today, July 6. The date for tariffs on the remaining $16 billion worth of products was not determined when they were announced, but Trump’s latest comments indicate that they will come into force from Friday, July 20.
“You have another $16 billion dollars in two weeks, and then, as you know, we have $200 billion in abeyance and then after the $200 billion, we have $300 billion in abeyance. Ok? So we have 50 plus 200 plus almost 300,” Trump reportedly told reporters.
Trump’s comments suggest that the US is gearing up to announce further tariffs, potentially on a total of half a trillion dollars’ worth of Chinese goods.
In response to last month’s announcement, China said it would impose tariffs of 25% on 659 US products, equating to approximately $50 billion, China’s state news outlet Xinhua reported.
Agricultural products and vehicles make up 545 of the 659 items (worth $34 billion), and tariffs on them are also effective from today.
The US did not immediately comment on China’s response, but when Trump shared the details of the tariffs in June, he said “the US will pursue additional tariffs if China engages in retaliatory measures”.
China Daily reported that China has followed through on its promise to “retaliate” and impose “counter-tariffs” on $34 billion of US goods, with the Chinese Commerce Ministry accusing the US of “typical trade bullying”. It added that America has “ignited the largest trade war in economic history”.
The Commerce Ministry said today (translated): “We will unswervingly deepen reform, expand opening up, protect entrepreneurship, strengthen property rights protection, and create a good business environment for Chinese companies in the world.”
The Ministry has said it plans to report the US’s actions to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In March of this year, Trump said that an investigation by the US Trade Representative identified China as a “particular problem” in relation to unfair trade practices, including IP violations and cyber theft. He threatened to implement tariffs of up to $60 billion on China.
The US and China called a ceasefire in their trade dispute in May, and agreed not to impose tariffs on each other.
However, in the same month, Trump signed a memorandum which said the US would take steps to protect American IP and technology from China’s “discriminatory trade practices”.
China’s State Council Information Office published a white paper last month which said it has “lived up to its responsibility as a major country” by “effectively” protecting IP rights since acceding to the WTO in 2001.
The release of the white paper followed a submission at the WTO by the EU, which accused China of being in breach of the TRIPS Agreement and other legal agreement covering IP.