Monday April 2, 2018
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China say US tariffs on metal that President Donald Trump announced in March have caused 'serious damage.' — Reuters picChina say US tariffs on metal that President Donald Trump announced in March have caused 'serious damage.' — Reuters picBEIJING, April 2 — China urged trade talks with the US to prevent greater damage to relations while saying that previously announced retaliatory measures on American imports took effect today.

The US didn’t respond to China’s March 26 request for consultation on Washington’s steel and aluminum tariffs, the Commerce Ministry said in a statement today, adding that officials have widespread public support for tougher measures and repeating Beijing’s stance that disputes should be resolved with dialogue. China previously planned to seek compensation for trade lost because of the US metals actions.

“A lot of people have expressed their endorsement to the measures via phone and email, and they support the government to take actions to defend the interest of the nation,” the ministry said of responses during a public comment period that ended March 31. “Some people suggested even stronger measures.”

That followed a statement yesterday from the Customs Tariffs Commission saying that previously announced tariffs on 128 kinds of imported goods originating in the US would take effect from today.

Those are in response to the US tariffs on metal that President Donald Trump announced in March on national security grounds. Beijing says these violate World Trade Organisation rules. The US has since announced some exceptions for allies, including Canada and Australia. China yesterday said the tariffs “caused serious damage” to its interests.

Items on Beijing’s original hit-list, issued on March 23, included US fresh and dried fruits, ginseng, nuts, wine, and pork, as well as certain steel products, with a value of about US$3 billion (RM billion) — a tiny fraction of its imports from the US. So far, high-volume agricultural exports to China, such as soybeans, haven’t been swept into the mix.

Beyond its actions on metals, the Trump administration is preparing to propose a list of other Chinese products to be targeted with tariffs. Trump announced in March that the U.S. will impose duties on about US$50 billion in Chinese goods to punish Beijing for what Washington sees as widespread violations of American intellectual property.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has until April 6 to release the list. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on March 28 that an announcement on the measures will come “very shortly.” China has said it has a plan to act further if the import levies on its goods go ahead. — Bloomberg

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