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Trump Hits China With More Tariffs On Sunday

President Donald J. Trump and President Xi Jinping | July 8, 2017 (Photo: Shealah Craighead)
President Donald J. Trump and President Xi Jinping | July 8, 2017 (Photo: Shealah Craighead)

“It’s difficult at this stage to see how there can be a deal or at least a good deal.”

New tariffs on more than $110 billion in Chinese imports took effect Sunday, a sharp escalation in a geopolitical power struggle between the world’s two largest economies.

“They’re on,” Trump told reporters on Friday, adding that upcoming face-to-face talks with Chinese trade negotiators in September are still happening “as of now.”

“We’re going to win the fight,” Trump said.

The tariffs have been widely criticized for disrupting the global economy. Critics fear they could lead the United States into recession.

“Economic expansions do not die of natural causes,” wrote Thomas J. Donohue, the chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in an op-ed for the Washington Post. “They often die because of missteps and policy mistakes. And the biggest mistake our leaders could make right now — putting our economy at greater risk of a downturn — is to stoke further uncertainty.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the largest business lobby in the country. A coalition of trade groups similarly pleaded to postpone the tariffs, arguing they will impact the coming holiday season. While Trump did not name any specific businesses, he seemed to respond to the pleas from major industry groups in a disparaging tweet:

“Badly run and weak companies are smartly blaming these small Tariffs instead of themselves for bad management,” Trump tweeted Friday. “And who can really blame them for doing that? Excuses!”

Analysts believe a resolution in the near future is unlikely.

“It’s difficult at this stage to see how there can be a deal or at least a good deal,” Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, told BBC. “Since talks broke down back in May, the position of both sides has hardened and there have been other complications, namely the Huawei ban and Hong Kong protests, which have made it even more difficult to bridge the gap.”

The 15% tariff set that went into effect on Sunday covers footwear, clothes, and other goods. A group of footwear companies, including Nike and Converse, sent a letter to Trump on Wednesday asking him to cancel the tariffs, arguing they “will also mean these massive tax increases hit tens of millions of Americans when they purchase shoes during the holiday season”.

China has tariffs on $110 billion in US products and plans to increase them, while Trump has vowed to raise rates on $250 billion in existing tariffs from 25% to 30% on October 1st. The Trump administration also plans to impose 15% levies on $300 billion more in Chinese goods on December 15, including laptops, toys and phones.

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a freelance writer with a Master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and Latin America to gain firsthand insight in some of the world’s most troubled areas, and he plans on publishing his first book in 2019.

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