Latest Round of Proposed Chinese Tariffs Includes Flooring

Soybean prices have fallen dramatically in recent weeks.
Daniel Acker  Bloomberg

But late Tuesday, when the administration issued a list of 6,000 products worth $200 billion that it proposes to hit with 10 percent tariffs, it included consumer items ranging from hats and handbags to seafood, vacuum cleaners, toilet paper and burglar alarms.

US officials on Tuesday issued a list of thousands of Chinese imports that the Trump administration wants to target with new tariffs, including hundreds of food products, as well as tobacco, chemicals, coal, steel and aluminum.

The tariffs will not be imposed immediately but will undergo a two-month review process with hearings from August 20 to 23.

More than 6,000 items could be affected - including burglar alarms, auto tyres, handbags, baseball gloves, carpets, toilet paper, dog food, and hundreds of food products.

The Trump administration said the proposed list, which would put 10 percent tariffs on thousands of different categories of Chinese imports, is needed to increase the pressure on Beijing to change what the us calls unfair trade practices. That prompted fears Beijing, running out of imports for retaliation due to its lopsided trade balance with the USA, might try to disrupt operations of American automakers, retailers and others that see China as a key market. "There is no justification for such action", he stated.

President of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, Mats Harborn speaks during the release of a report in Beijing, China, Tuesday, July 10, 2018.

China's assistant commerce minister Li Chenggang said earlier on Wednesday that the latest proposed tariffs harms the World Trade Organisation (WTO) system and hurts globalisation.

China may respond to Trump's $US200 billion trade threat by targeting United States subsidiaries in China.

Stock markets in Asia fell sharply during early trading on Wednesday amid the escalating trade tension between the two economic giants.

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President Donald Trump has threatened to tax as much as $550 billion in Chinese products - an amount that exceeds America's total imports from China past year.

"China's closest neighbours, namely Japan, Korea and Hong Kong, are most vulnerable to a US-Sino trade war because they export mostly intermediate goods to China", OCBC Bank said in a note. Before now, the administration had scrupulously avoided slapping tariffs on consumer goods in order to spare US shoppers from direct economic pain.

US Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch described the move was "reckless".

The US Chamber of Commerce has supported Trump's domestic tax cuts and efforts to reduce regulation of businesses, but it has been critical of Trump's aggressive tariff policies. Imposing taxes on another US$200 billion worth of products will raise the costs of every day goods for American families, farmers, ranchers, workers, and job creators.

"The Trump administration is gambling that by wielding such a big club, it will force China to back down", said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Washington made a decision to impose the extra tariffs after efforts to negotiate a solution to the dispute failed to reach an agreement, senior administration officials said on Tuesday.

"China has no option but to fight fire with fire. So, now he's fighting two wars and that's a bit complicated", Tal said.

It can not directly match the total of $234bn worth of goods that the United States has in its sights, because it does not import enough American goods (another fact which the U.S. president complains about).

The Retail Industry Leaders Association, a lobbying group, said United States businesses and consumers will lose from the administration's trade battle.

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