President Trump announced on Thursday that he would impose approximately $60 billion worth of annual tariffs on Chinese imports as the administration moved to punish China on what the White House says is a pattern of co-opting American technology and trade secrets.

The Chinese tariffs, which the United States trade representatives will publish within 15 days, will target 1,300 lines of Chinese goods–everything from shoes and clothing to electronics. The White House is granting a list of exemptions to American allies from steel and aluminum tariffs that go into effect today, including Canada, Mexico, the European Union, South Korea and Brazil.

“The National Chicken Council (NCC) commends the Trump Administration’s efforts to assist U.S. businesses and their employees by seeking more balanced and transparent trade with China,” said NCC President Mike Brown.  “While the ramifications of this action are still unknown, it is important to note that U.S. broiler products have been unfairly blocked from China’s market by their imposition of unjustified anti-dumping tariffs on our products, which a recent WTO decision confirmed as being unjustified.  In addition, China has maintained a non-scientific trade barrier against U.S. broiler products based upon the occurrence of highly pathogenic avian influenza now three years in the past.  We look forward to working with the Administration to regain access to this important market to the U.S. broiler industry.”

Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative, told the Senate Finance Committee yesterday that he had recommended the forthcoming actions against China include tariffs on Chinese products from all of the advanced industries the country has vowed to build up as part of its “Made in China 2025” plan. Those industreis include electric vehicles, high-tech shipping and aerospace technology.  President Trump will also direct the Treasury Department to impose restrictions on Chinese investment in U.S. technology companies.

This action to impose tariffs helps fulfill one of the president’s core campaign pledges to demand more reciprocal deals with trading partners around the world. “What the United States is doing is strategically defending itself from China’s economic aggression,” said Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, and an architect of the measures.  “We repeatedly aired our concerns about China as a nonmarket economy.”

Navarro views the tariffs as part of a seminal shift in how the United States views China.  Rather than trying to draw it into the rules-based international economic order–a policy that dates back to Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger–The United States now regards China as a strategic competitor, bent on eroding American security and prosperity.  “The end objective of this is to get China to modify its unfair trade practices.”

 

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