As previewed one week ago, on Sunday China unveiled new retaliatory duties on US food imports including pork, nuts, wine and fruits of between 15% and 25% in response to Trump administration’s Section 232 tariffs (not to be confused with the $60BN in Section 301 tariffs unveiled subsequently) on steel and aluminum imports.
In a statement posted on China's Ministry of Finance website, China’s Customs Tariffs Commission confirmed reports from March 23, stating that additional duties on 128 kinds of products of US origin would be introduced from Monday "in order to safeguard China’s interests and balance the losses caused by the United States additional tariffs."
As was already known, the highest tariffs of 25% will be imposed on top of existing duties on imports of US scrap aluminium and various kinds of frozen pork. A lower, 15% tariff, will be slapped on dozens of US foods including wine, fresh and dried fruits such as cherries, nuts such as almonds and pistachios, and various kinds of rolled steel bars
As the FT notes, the list was consistent with measures proposed by Beijing last month when it said it was planning tariffs on $3BN of US imports. The response was seen as relatively measured since it left out key US exports to China such as soyabeans, of which the US exported some $14bn last year. Since Beijing has yet to retaliate to the 25% duty on up to $60bn of annual imports from China that Trump promised later last month, it is almost guaranteed that Beijing will make a tougher response in the future.
While most analysts say Beijing is reluctant to escalate trade disputes with Washington, as its mercantilist economy would have more to lose in any trade war, some influential commentators in China have called for a more robust response to the US’s next set of tariffs, the details of which are yet to be announced but which are expected to be aimed at strategic sectors such as robotics, which Beijing is promoting as part of its industrial policy.
Additionally, as the FT notes, retaliating against soyabean shipments could have a big impact on US farmers, many from states that voted for Mr Trump in the 2016 presidential election. But it would also involve significant pain for China. The country relies heavily on the US for the product, which is used as an animal feed.
For now, however, and as laid out below, items on Beijing’s original hit-list, issued on March 23, includes 128 products split into seven groups and including U.S. pork, recycled aluminum, steel pipes, fruit and wine. The Chinese ministry will implement measures in two stages: first, a 15% tariff on 120 products including steel pipes, dried fruit and wine, and later, a 25% tariff on pork and recycled aluminum.
he full list of US imports targeted by China is below