China imposes tariffs on more than 125 US imports including fruit and pork as fears of trade war grow


China is imposing tariffs on more than 125 US imports including fruit and pork, heightening fears of a trade war between the two countries.

Tariffs of up to 25 per cent go into effect on Monday as President Xi Jinping’s government followed through on a threat to impose the measures. 

China confirmed it has suspended duty concessions on 128 US imports after President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminium “caused serious damage” to Beijing’s interests.

Global markets were shaken in March when Trump announced he would impose tariffs on Chinese goods as part of his “America first” agenda.

Beijing struck back just days after the Trump administration said the tariffs on Chinese goods may not be imposed until early June.

China’s Ministry of Finance announced the new tariffs in a statement, writing: “The Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council has decided to suspend duty concessions on certain imported goods originating in the United States and implemented it on April 2, 2018.”

It said the measures were imposed in response to Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminium, adding: “[The US] measures violated the relevant rules of the World Trade Organization and did not comply with the ‘security exceptions’ provision, which actually constituted safeguard measures.

“This measure was implemented on March 23 and caused serious damage to our interests.

“In order to safeguard China’s interests and balance the losses caused by the US measures to China’s interests, China has suspended duties on seven categories of 128 imported goods originating in the United States from duty duties on April 2, 2018, based on the current applicable tariff rates.

“Tariffs have been imposed on the importation of tariffs on 120 items of imported goods such as fruits and products, and a tariff rate of 25 per cent on 8 items such as pork and products. The current policy of tax-free and tax-exemption remains unchanged.”

China is imposing a 15 per cent tariff on the 120 goods including fruit, the state-owned China News Service reported.

The Trump administration hasn’t published its list of Chinese goods that will face tariffs, but US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told CNBC last week it would total more than $50bn (£35bn) and include “largely high-technology things”. 

The goods will be chosen by a computer algorithm to maximize pain on Chinese exporters while minimising pain on US consumers, he added.

He said it would take years to bring the US-China trading relationship “to a good place”, and there would be “a certain amount of tension between the two” given that they have different economic systems.

Trump is imposing tariffs to punish China over allegations that Beijing systematically misappropriated American intellectual property and to prompt changes in various Chinese government policies aimed at forcing technology transfers.

The tariff list must be published by April 6 under a proclamation that Trump signed in March. The measures will go into effect following a 60-day public consultation process.

The president has led an “America first” agenda on trade which has put him at odds with a number of countries, including allies Britain and Canada.

The US President recently agreed a bilateral trade deal with South Korea, another ally, with a side pact to deter competitive currency devaluation.

It is expected he will make similar demands in upcoming trade talks with Japan.

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