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US trade agency affirms Trump’s tariff hike on Chinese goods

The USTR will impose a 15 per cent tariff on some of the targeted goods from Sept 1, with the rest, including cell phones and laptop computers, to get a 15 per cent tariff on Dec 15, the agency said in a Federal Register notice.

SNS | New Delhi |

The US Trade Representative’s office on Wednesday reaffirmed President Donald Trump’s plans to impose an additional 5 per cent tariff on a US$300 billion list of Chinese imports starting on Sept 1 and Dec 15.

The latest cry for peace in Trump’s year-long trade war came just days before the first in series of tariff increases is due to go into effect — potentially raising prices ahead of the crucial holiday shopping period.

The USTR will impose a 15 per cent tariff on some of the targeted goods from Sept 1, with the rest, including cell phones and laptop computers, to get a 15 per cent tariff on Dec 15, the agency said in a Federal Register notice.

Last Friday, Trump took to Twitter and announced the tariff increase, in response to Chinese retaliatory tariffs on US$75 billion worth of US goods, including crude oil.

“China’s most recent response of announcing a new tariff increase on US goods has shown that the current action being taken is no longer appropriate,” USTR said in the notice.

The Trump administration had previously planned to impose a 10 per cent tariff on these imports.

However, the Federal Register notice did not mention Trump’s announcement of his intention to increase the duty to 30 per cent on a US$250 billion list of Chinese imports on Oct 1 that have already been hit with a 25 per cent tariff.

Matt Priest, president of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America said in a statement, “We’ve been telling the White House since the beginning that tariffs will be paid by Americans in the form of higher prices, and that due to our already high import taxes, this will be a job killer”(sic).

The dispute between the world’s two biggest economies in July 2018 boiled over into tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of each other’s goods and threatens to engulf all trade between the countries, putting global growth at risk.

USTR accuses China of “unfair acts, policies and practices,” including its retaliatory tariffs and “concrete steps to devalue its currency,” allegations denied by Beijing.

Earlier this month, the US Treasury had declared China a currency manipulator.

The Information Technology Industry Council agreed to China needs to change its unfair trade practices, but said in a statement on Wednesday that “the current tool of tariffs has simply not worked, and we’re continuing to see the negative results.”