Timeline: Key dates in the US-China trade war

President Donald Trump said he was ordering US companies to exit China, as well as raising tariffs on US$250 billion worth of goods to 30 per cent from 25 per cent.
President Donald Trump said he was ordering US companies to exit China, as well as raising tariffs on US$250 billion worth of goods to 30 per cent from 25 per cent.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Hopes for settlement of the year-long US-China trade war dimmed further on Friday (Aug 23) as China said it will slap retaliatory tariffs on about US$75 billion (S$104.03 billion) worth of US goods, the latest escalation in the dispute between the world's two largest economies.

President Donald Trump said he was ordering US companies to exit China, as well as raising tariffs on US$250 billion worth of goods to 30 per cent from 25 per cent.

Trump also said that recently announced tariffs on US$300 billion of Chinese products, virtually every remaining Chinese import, will have 15 per cent tariffs levied on them instead of 10 per cent as previously planned.

The following timeline details key moments in the souring trade relationship between the world's two largest economies.

2016

June 28: While campaigning for the White House, Trump lays out plans to counter unfair trade practices from China at a rally in Pennsylvania. He also threatens to apply tariffs under sections 201 and 301 of US trade legislation, which he subsequently does. He says China's entrance into the World Trade Organisation enabled the "greatest jobs theft in history."

2017

March 31: Trump, now president, signs two executive orders. One calls for tighter tariff enforcement in anti-subsidy and anti-dumping trade cases. The other orders a review of US trade deficits and their causes.

April 7: At their first meeting at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree to a 100-day plan for trade talks.

July 19: The two sides fail to agree on new steps to reduce the US deficit with China after the 100 days of talks.

Aug 14: Trump orders "Section 301" probe into alleged Chinese intellectual property theft, described as his first direct trade measure against Beijing. Section 301 refers to the part of a 1974 trade law that lays out how the United States should enforce its rights under trade agreements.

2018

Jan 17: Trump, in a Reuters interview, threatens a big "fine" on China over alleged IP theft, without providing details.

Jan 22: Trump imposes tariffs on all imported washing machines and solar panels - not just those from China.

March 8: Trump orders 25 per cent tariffs on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminum from all suppliers - not just China.

April 2: China imposes tariffs of up to 25 per cent on 128 US products.

April 3: Trump unveils plans for 25 per cent tariffs on about US$50 billion of Chinese imports.

April 4: China responds with plans for retaliatory tariffs on about US$50 billion of US imports.

 
 
 

June 15: The United States sets an effective date of July 6 for 25 per cent levies on US$34 billion of Chinese imports. It says 25 per cent tariffs will also kick in on an additional US$16 billion of goods after a public comment period. China responds in kind with tariffs on US$34 billion of US goods.

July 10: The United States unveils plans for 10 per cent tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese imports.

Aug 1: Trump orders USTR to increase the tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese imports to 25 per cent from the originally proposed 10 per cent.

Aug 7: The United States releases the list of US$16 billion of Chinese goods to be subject to 25 per cent tariffs. China retaliates with 25 per cent duties on US$16 billion of US goods.

Aug 23: Tariffs on goods appearing on the Aug 7 lists from both the United States and China take effect.

Sept 7: Trump threatens tariffs on US$267 billion more of Chinese imports.

Sept 24: The United States implements 10 per cent tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese imports. The administration says the rate will increase to 25 per cent on Jan 1, 2019. China answers with duties of its own on US$60 billion of US goods.

Dec 1: The United States and China agree on a 90-day halt to new tariffs. Trump agrees to put off the Jan 1 scheduled increase on tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods until early March while talks between the two countries take place. China agrees to buy a "very substantial" amount of US products.

2019

Feb 24: Trump extends the March 1 deadline, leaving the tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods at 10 per cent on an open-ended basis.

May 5: Trump tweets that he intends to raise the tariffs rate on US$200 billion of Chinese goods to 25 per cent on May 10.

May 8: The Trump administration gives formal notice of its intent to raise tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese imports to 25 per cent from 10 per cent, effective May 10.

Earlier, Reuters reported that China had backtracked on almost all aspects of a draft US-China trade pact.

June 18: Trump and Xi speak by phone, and the two sides agree to rekindle trade talks ahead of a planned meeting between the two leaders scheduled for the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Japan at the end of June.

June 29: At the G-20 meeting in Osaka, the United States and China formally agree to restart trade talks after concessions from both sides. Trump agrees to no new tariffs and an easing of restrictions on Chinese telecom powerhouse Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. China agrees to unspecified new purchases of US farm products.

Aug 1: After two days of trade talks with little progress and complaints by Trump that China has not followed through on a promise to buy more US farm products, he announces 10 per cent tariffs on US$300 billion worth of Chinese imports, in addition to the 25 per cent already levied on US$250 billion worth of Chinese goods. Trump says the talks between Washington and Beijing would continue despite the new tariffs, and that the rate could be increased above 25 per cent in stages.

 
 
 

Aug 5: China's Commerce Ministry responds to the latest US tariffs by halting purchases of US agricultural products, and China's yuan currency weakens past the key seven per dollar level, sending equity markets sharply lower.

After US markets close, the US Treasury says it has determined for the first time since 1994 that China is manipulating its currency, knocking the US dollar sharply lower and sending gold prices to a six-year high.

Aug 6: China's central bank, the People's Bank of China, says Beijing has not and will not use the yuan to respond to trade frictions. A senior Trump aide says US-China trade talks are still planned in Washington in September, and the latest tariffs could still be changed if talks go well, a message that helps calm markets.

Aug 9: Trump says he is not ready to make a deal with Beijing and suggests he may cancel in-person trade talks scheduled for Washington in September. The US president also says the United States will continue to refrain from doing business with Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei, an apparent rollback of his promise during the meeting with Xi.

But a White House official later says that Trump was referring to a ban on US government purchases of Huawei equipment, not requests for sales by US companies, which are still being assessed by the Commerce Department.

Aug 13: The Trump administration delays tariffs on about half of the Chinese products on the US$300 billion dollar list announced on Aug 1, including laptops and cell phones, scheduled to start in September. These tariffs will instead be introduced on Dec 15 in the hopes of blunting their impact on US holiday sales.

Aug 23: China announces it will impose additional retaliatory tariffs against about US$75 billion worth of US goods, putting as much as an extra 10 per cent on top of existing rates in response to the US tariffs announced earlier in August.

In response, Trump announces Washington would raise all current tariffs from 25 per cent to 30 per cent, and the tariffs scheduled for September and December to 15 per cent instead of 10 per cent.