China says no tariffs on US goods before US tariffs on China goods

A US cargo ship (behind) docks at the Yangshan Deep-Water Port, an automated cargo wharf, in Shanghai.
A US cargo ship (behind) docks at the Yangshan Deep-Water Port, an automated cargo wharf, in Shanghai.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China’s finance ministry said on Wednesday (July 4) it will not fire the first shot on implementation of tariffs in a trade dispute with the United States. 

The ministry, in a statement, said it would not implement its tariffs on US  goods set to take effect on July 6 before the United States imposes its tariffs on Chinese goods.

Reuters had reported earlier Wednesday that China’s threatened tariffs on US$34 billion (S$46.3 billion) of US goods will take effect from the beginning of the day on Friday (July 6), citing a person with knowledge of the plan.

Washington has said it would implement tariffs on US$34 billion of Chinese imports on July 6, and Beijing has vowed to retaliate in kind on the same day, amid worsening trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

The 12-hour time difference would put Beijing ahead in terms of actually implementing the tariffs.

“Our measures are equal and being equal means that if the US starts on July 6, we start on July 6,” the source told Reuters, who requested anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to media. “The implementation time for all policies starts at midnight.”

China’s customs agency did not answer a phone call seeking comment, and its commerce ministry did not reply to a fax requesting comment.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to escalate the trade conflict with tariffs on as much as US$400 billion in Chinese goods if Beijing retaliates against the US tariffs set to take effect on Friday.

Chinese currency and stock markets have been jittery ahead of Friday’s tariff implementation.