United States tariffs on China: Trump administration adds $16 billion

Donald Trump's new law doesn't single out China but there's no doubt the intended target is Beijing

Beijing said last Friday it would impose tariffs ranging from 5 per cent to 25 per cent on US$60 billion worth of American products.

Washington had already imposed tariffs on United States dollars 34 billion on July 6 but held off on a final USD 16 billion in goods as a result of concerns from U.S. companies. West Texas Intermediate and international-benchmark Brent crude oil futures are under pressure early Wednesday after China said it will retaliate against the latest round of USA tariffs on Chinese imports.

The administration is preparing tariffs of up to 25 percent on an additional $200 billion in Chinese products.

China placed tariffs on US imports including pork and soybeans.

China's surplus with the United States shrank marginally to $28.09 billion last month from a record $28.97 billion.

The weak figures come as Beijing has been trying to encourage domestic consumption, with measures such as lowering tariffs for consumer goods, as part of its strategy to deal with the mounting pressure from the trade war, which is set to crimp the country's exports, traditionally one of the main drivers of growth.

The move is the latest escalation of President Donald Trump's trade war with China.

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Sales to the U.S. rose by 13.3%, while China's surplus with the States shrank marginally to $28.1bn (£21.7bn) last month from a record $29bn (£22.4bn) in June.

President Trump had repeatedly expressed discontent over the USA trade deficit with China, accusing the country of unfair trade practices, intellectual property theft, currency manipulation, and of providing state aid to Chinese firms.

Still, disagreements between the two major economic powers run deeper than just the trade balance and tensions remain over market access, intellectual property, technology transfer and investment.

"Looking ahead, we expect export growth to cool in the coming months, though this will primarily reflect softer global growth rather than U.S. tariffs, the direct impact of which will continue to be mostly offset by the renminbi's (yuan's) recent depreciation", Capital Economics' Senior China Economist Julian Evans-Pritchard wrote in a note. At that time, Beijing threatened a 25 percent tariff on USA crude imports, although it did not issue a specific date for the move. The $16 billion taxed in the latest round brings the total amount of Chinese goods taxed up to $50 billion. That was off slightly from June's 13.6% rate but still stronger than China's global export growth. Last year, China imported about $130 billion of US goods.

In a statement, the Chinese Commerce Ministry charged that the United States "once again put domestic law above worldwide law by imposing "very unreasonable" new tariffs on Chinese goods".

Trade tensions between the U.S. and China have been intensifying over recent months with each country imposing levies on mutual imports with extra duties.

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