China has made its latest move in the ongoing tariff battle with the United States, announcing immediately after the U.S. tariff news Wednesday that it will slap 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of American goods.
According to a statement from China’s Ministry of Commerce Wednesday, the U.S. isn’t playing fair in its effort to establish fair trade.
“The U.S. measures violated the rules of the World Trade Organization and seriously violated China’s legitimate rights and interests and threatened the development interests of our country,” the ministry said in a translated statement.
As such, China will levy a new 25 percent tariff on 106 items from the U.S.
The move, according to the ministry, “is a just act to defend [China’s] legitimate rights and interests and safeguard the multilateral trading system. It is a legitimate measure that conforms to the basic principles of international law.”
China’s new tariff list largely focuses on soybeans, automobiles and chemicals, but uncombed cotton and cotton linters will face the 25 percent tariff—which means the textile industry won’t come out entirely unscathed here—not to mention the setback it will face from the U.S. instituted tariffs, too.
On Tuesday, the U.S. released its list of 1,300 products from China that will also face new tariffs as high as 25 percent. And where the textile sector is concerned, much of the machinery used to facilitate textile manufacturing—like spinning machines, sewing machines and the machines that knit and weave—made the list.
What that’s likely to mean for an already challenged U.S. manufacturing industry is that companies will now face steeper costs to import the machinery to fuel any kind of domestic apparel and textile production. Those U.S.-based companies could go one of several ways in the face of the impending higher costs of doing business: eliminate jobs to make up the costs, opt out of any expansions they may have been planning, or give up on domestic manufacturing, looking instead to greater foreign imports. Whichever path, the moves would run counter to what the Trump Administration has been purportedly looking to achieve with its America First agenda and bringing jobs back to the U.S.
The back-and-forth tariff threats don’t bode well for relations between the U.S. and its largest trading partner either.
China’s Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said during a press conference Wednesday that the U.S. should look to return to talks and handle trade in a more pragmatic way.
“The product lists have not come into effect yet. Now that the two sides have put issues onto the table, it’s time for negotiations and cooperation,” Xinhua news reported Zhu as saying. “The prerequisite for negotiations and cooperation is mutual respect, not one side recklessly forcing conditions on the other.”