US plans 25% tariffs on 1,300 Chinese imports

The US has published a list of about 1,300 products from China it plans to hit with a 25% tariff.

The White House says the proposed extra tax on the imports is a response to unfair Chinese practices around intellectual property rights.

The wide-ranging list includes items such as medical products, televisions and motorcycles.

Economists have warned the move could prompt China to retaliate and lead to higher prices for American consumers.

The release of the list comes just after China hit $3bn worth of US products with tariffs in response to steel and aluminium tariffs the US has imposed.

The products on the list the US published on Tuesday represent imports worth about $50bn annually.

Last year the US imported goods from China worth about $506bn.

The office of the US Trade Representative, which handles trade negotiations, said the amount is “appropriate both in light of the estimated harm to the US economy and to obtain elimination of China’s harmful acts, policies and practices”.

A final list will be determined after a public comment period and review expected to last about two months.

The plans for tariffs are the result of an investigation that US President Donald Trump ordered last year into China’s intellectual property practices.

Last month, he said the probe found evidence of problems, such as practices that pressure US companies to share technology with Chinese firms and ordered a list of products drawn up for tariffs.

Trade war fears

US business groups have urged the two sides to try to resolve the issues through talks, expressing concern that threatening tariffs could lead to a dispute that hurts the US economy.

The US Chamber of Commerce said: “The administration is rightly focused on restoring equity and fairness in our trade relationship with China. However, imposing taxes on products used daily by American consumers and job creators is not the way to achieve those ends.”

China’s economy has become less dependent on exports in recent years, which is likely to blunt the effect of the tariffs, according to analysts for S&P Global Ratings.

They said the US is the destination for only about 15% of China’s good exports.

The list includes parts of communication satellites, aviation equipment and brewery machinery, as well as more niche products such as bakery ovens and rocket launchers.

Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM US, said he does not think the Chinese will take the list seriously, pointing to low-demand items like monitors with video cassette recorders.

Instead, he said the main outcome is likely to be higher prices for American manufacturers – and, eventually, consumers.

That may not be enough to persuade the Trump administration to opt for a different strategy, he added.

“At this point, if the Trump administration does not follow through on this they’re going to lose face and credibility,” he said.

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