Trump tariffs on China likely to cost 400,000 manufacturing jobs, group says

Cargo ships berth at a port in Qingdao in China's eastern Shandong province on May 8, 2019.
Cargo ships berth at a port in Qingdao in China's eastern Shandong province on May 8, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - United States President Donald Trump's higher tariffs on Chinese imports will have "dire consequences" for US equipment manufacturers and worsen prospects for American farmers and others already reeling from lower commodity prices, an industry trade group warned on Friday (May 10).

The tariffs will "drive down exports, and suppress job gains for the industry by as much as 400,000 over 10 years. It will also invite China to hit back at American businesses, farmers, communities, and families," said Mr Kip Eideberg, vice-president of government affairs for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, which represents more than 1,000 US makers of farm, construction and mining machinery.

"With producers already struggling with falling commodity prices, additional retaliatory tariffs on US agricultural exports will have a chilling effect on equipment manufacturers," Mr Eideberg said in a statement after the penalties went into effect.

Just after midnight on Friday, the US slapped a 25 per cent tariff on about US$200 billion (S$273 billion) of Chinese goods, up from 10 per cent.

China has said it would take "necessary countermeasures", though Chinese officials did not immediately specify what they were.

The Trump administration went ahead with the new tariffs even as trade talks were scheduled to continue in Washington later on Friday with a Chinese delegation led by Vice-Premier Liu He.

"We support the president's efforts to address China's unfair trade and investment practices, which prevent equipment manufacturers from competing on a level playing field," Mr Eideberg said in the statement.

"But we do not believe that broad unilateral tariffs are the right approach."