Washington D.C. [USA], Mar 23 : United States President Donald Trump on Thursday imposed massive trade tariffs amounting to USD 60 billion on China, in a move that could escalate into a global trade war, given the accelerating trade tensions between the two countries.
Terming Beijing as its efforts to steal ‘intellectual property’ from American companies, President Trump signed a memorandum directing the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) and the US Treasury Department to launch a ‘broad range of actions’ against China.
During an event at the White House, Trump said that imposing tariffs on China is “going to make the US a much stronger and a much richer nation.”
The US President called China as a “friend” but demanded that Beijing should adopt more favourable trade practices with Washington D.C.
“That’s how China rebuilt itself. The tremendous money that we’ve paid since the founding of the World Trade Organization, which has actually been a disaster for us. It’s been very unfair to us. The arbitrations are very unfair. The judging has been very unfair. And knowingly, we always have a minority, and it’s not fair,” President Trump said.
The US President alleged that China had been indulging in tremendous intellectual property theft worth hundreds of billions of dollars on a yearly basis.
“I’ve spoken to the (Chinese) president. I’ve spoken to representatives of China. We’ve been dealing with it very seriously. As you know, we’re renegotiating NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). We’ll see how that turns out. Many countries are calling to negotiate better trade deals because they don’t want to have to pay the steel and aluminium tariffs, and we are negotiating with various countries,” he added.
President Trump will soon consult US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to consider whether the actions by China should result in increased tariffs on their imports. The USTR is expected to publish a proposed list of products and recommended tariff increases for public comment within the next 15 days, according to The Hill.
The White House said that the Trump administration will propose adding 25 percent additional tariffs on certain products including aerospace, information communication technology and machinery for public comment.
The decision comes after President Trump said earlier this month that the US will impose new tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium separately.
While the steel and aluminium tariffs were targeted toward China, the new measures are even more focused on Beijing and could draw more political support from Congress. The steel and aluminium tariffs have been criticized by many Democratic and Republican lawmakers as well.
The new order will see a 25 percent tariff on imports of steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminium. This might potentially have huge implications on the international trade front, with many experts predicting it will adversely affect oil prices, as well as prompting fears of a trade war.
President Trump has also asked the USTR to pursue dispute settlement through the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to address China’s ‘discriminatory licensing practices’.