China hits back with tariffs on US agri-products

3 Apr 2018 | Rei Geyssens

The Chinese government implemented its proposed tariffs on various agriculture products as off April 2 as a retaliation to the US’s recent steel and aluminium tariffs, but remained silent on any action targeting US soybeans.

The new tariffs, on items such as pork, steel pipes, ethanol and fresh fruit, are implemented to “safeguard China's interests and balance the losses caused by the US adding tariffs on imported steel and aluminium products to China's interests,” the Chinese Ministry of Finance said in an update Monday.

The Chinese Customs department added that it is using “legitimate measures – to use the WTO rules to safeguard our interest” in response to the US’s recent trade tariffs, accusing the US of not adhering to WTO rules as it is solely protecting itself.

The White House responded saying, "instead of targeting fairly traded US exports, China needs to stop its unfair trading practices which are harming U.S. national security and distorting global markets," Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement.

She added that China’s "subsidization and continued overcapacity" is the root cause of the steel crisis which have hurt US producers.

Beijing remained silent on any potential tariffs on the $14 billion trade in US soybeans, a move that both Chinese and US industry sources still fear.

China buys about 60% of all global soybeans and imports around 30% of its share from the US.

Late last week the US Ambassador in China, Terry Branstad, told Bloomberg that such tariffs don’t “make sense” as it would hurt the Chinese consumer more than the American soy farmer.

“Ultimately, the Chinese will realize we need to work together on these issues and retaliation is not the answer, but instead collaboration and cooperation to address the issues that have been around for a long time,” Branstad added.

Beijing implemented a 25% tariff on US pork and aluminium scrap and 15% on steel pipes, fresh fruits and nuts as well as increasing the existing duty on ethanol imports.

China originally proposed the list on March 23 in response to the US proposals.