Trump starts action to impose tariffs on China

China is preparing a range of responses to Donald Trump's tariffs and will stand up to protectionism, but it still hopes for dialogue.
China is preparing a range of responses to Donald Trump's tariffs and will stand up to protectionism, but it still hopes for dialogue. PHOTO: AFP

US President Donald Trump yesterday announced his intent to impose up to US$60 billion (S$79 billion) worth of tariffs on China, sparking fears of a trade war.

Initiating the process, he signed a directive for a Section 301 action on China. Section 301 authorises the President to take all appropriate action, including retaliation, to force a foreign government to change practices the United States deems unjustified, unreasonable or discriminatory, and that burden or restrict US commerce.

Speaking at a press conference, Mr Trump said of the tariffs: "The word I want to use is reciprocal... If they charge us, we charge them the same thing."

"We have a tremendous intellectual property theft situation going on which, likewise, is hundreds of billions of dollars, and that is on a yearly basis.

"We have spoken to China and we are in the midst of a very large negotiation. We will see where it takes us," he added. Mr Trump said his drive to reduce trade deficits globally would make the US a stronger and richer nation.

China is preparing a range of responses to Mr Trump's tariffs and will stand up to protectionism, but it still hopes for dialogue, Beijing's ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said yesterday, reported Reuters.

Mr Zhang Xiangchen said China was considering a WTO complaint, but that was only one option. "This is a legitimate right for China to do that. But I would not exclude other options, because if the flood approaches, you have to bank up to keep it out," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2018, with the headline 'Trump starts action to impose tariffs on China'. Print Edition | Subscribe