The trade war between the world’s two largest economies entered a new phase on Sunday, as US tariffs targeting Chinese-made products and Beijing’s retaliatory hikes on American imports both kick in.
Washington introduced 15 percent tariffs, hiked from the previous 10 percent, at 12:01 am EDT (04:01 GMT) on the first day of September. It is the first portion of tariffs targeting a combined total of $300 billion-worth of Chinese goods threatened by Washington, with another batch scheduled for December 15. Separately, the US will rise the existing 25 percent tariff on $250 billion-worth of Chinese products to 30 percent, starting next month.
The 122-page list, effective from September 1, covers a wide range of products –and, notably, many everyday household items– worth between $112 billion and $150 billion, according to various estimates.
For example, the targeted items include suits, jackets, skirts, shirts among other different clothing and accessories, as well as a wide range of footwear. The American Apparel and Footwear Association has said that more than 90 percent of apparel, nearly 70 percent of home textiles and more than half of footwear imports from China will be affected by the levies that come into effect on Sunday.
The tariff hikes will also affect goods for babies, such as diapers and pacifiers, as well as TV panels, coffee, whiskey, dairy products, meat, cheeses and textbooks.
The latest tariff hike is feared to be a painful blow to American businesses, which cannot absorb all the levies and, subsequently, will hurt consumers, who will eventually bear the cost of the tariffs. Even before US President Donald Trump announced a five percent increase in tariffs last week, Wall Street major JPMorgan Chase warned that the hiked duties would cost the average American household roughly $1,000-a-year.
Various industry associations have already cried foul against Trump’s tariffs. Most of them, including US-based footwear companies, the National Retail Federation and the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in China, have warned that retailers will be forced to raise prices and have stressed that the tariffs would thus hit average American families hard.
China hits back
Part of Beijing’s tit-for-tat response also comes into force on Sunday, the very minute US tariffs are effective. The tariffs, ranging from five to ten percent on $75 billion-worth of American imports, are split into batches, just like the US’ ones, with the second round set to be imposed mid-December.
Beijing’s levies that will take effect on Sunday are thought to target around $30 billion-worth of US imports, and mostly affect products that are sensitive for the US agricultural sector. For example, soybeans will face an extra five percent tariff, while beef and pork will be hit with additional 10 percent duties.
When China announced the retaliatory measure in response to US tariff increase last week, Trump immediately increased by five percent the tariff rates he’d earlier promised, further escalating trade tensions. Beijing did not then follow suit, stressing that, while it has “ample means for retaliation,” it wants the two sides to continue trade negotiations.
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