Tariffs in place or planned for nearly all goods traded by US, China

Reuters | Published: 00:00, Sep 21,2019


US and Chinese trade negotiators are meeting in Washington this week to find ways to defuse a trade war that has roiled markets and triggered tit-for-tat tariffs on hundreds of billions of goods traded between the world’s largest economies.

Last week, both sides offered goodwill gestures aimed at laying the groundwork for productive talks. US president Donald Trump delayed a planned hike on tariffs on some Chinese goods by two weeks until October 15, while China postponed tariffs on US cancer drugs, lubricants and animal feed ingredients.

If fully imposed, US tariffs already implemented and proposed will cover virtually all Chinese imports - worth about $550 billion - by December 15. China has imposed or planned tariffs on all but 10 per cent of its yearly US imports of around $120 billion.

Here is a look at US and Chinese tariffs recently put in place and those scheduled to take effect over the next several months.

The US tariffs targeted some $300 billion in goods imported from China, with a 15 per cent tariff taking effect in two phases, on September 1 and December 15.

The initial list of goods includes mostly consumer products, based on a Reuters analysis of 2018 US Census Bureau data. It includes flat panel television sets, flash memory devices, power tools, cotton sweaters, bed linens, multifunction printers and many types of footwear.

The largest category of targeted products covers smart watches, smart speakers, Bluetooth headphones and other internet-connected devices that were spared from a prior round of tariffs, with Chinese imports estimated at $17.9 billion annually by the Consumer Technology Association.

The second round of the 15 per cent US tariffs is scheduled for December 15. It targets Chinese goods not previously hit by US duties and will hit the consumer technology sector hard, including cellphones, laptop and tablet computers — categories that made up a combined $80 billion in Chinese imports last year.

About $12 billion worth of Chinese toy imports also would be affected. Trump has said he delayed tariffs on such products because he wanted to avoid hurting Christmas season sales for Apple Inc and other companies and retailers.

The list covers about $156 billion worth of total 2018 imports from China, based on US Census Bureau data, and includes a wide range of other consumer goods, from plastic tableware and light-emitting diode lamps to clothing.

The Trump administration is accepting public comments through Friday on a proposed October 15 tariff rate increase to 30 per cent, from the 25 per cent duty already in place on at least $250 billion worth of Chinese imports.

The higher tariff had been due to take effect on October 1, but Trump last week announced it would be delayed ‘as a gesture of good will.’ October 1 is the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.

The 25 per cent tariffs were implemented over a nearly year-long period, starting with an initial tranche of largely non-consumer goods in July and August 2018, including machinery and electronic components such as semiconductors and printed circuit boards and many chemicals. A later $200 billion list added consumer goods and building products, including furniture, vacuum cleaners, lighting fixtures, handbags and vinyl flooring.

After Trump in early August announced he was moving ahead with tariffs on virtually all remaining Chinese imports, Beijing said it would impose additional 5 per cent or 10 per cent tariffs on a total of 5,078 product categories from the United States, representing worth about $75 billion annually.

The first stage of the Chinese tariffs also took effect on September 1, with a second tranche to follow on December 15. This list targeted US crude oil for the first time with a 5 per cent tariff, while the tariff on US soya beans jumped to 30 per cent from 25 per cent. US beef and pork also saw their tariffs increased by 10 per cent.

Last week, Beijing announced it would exclude some agricultural products, including soya beans and pork, from the additional tariffs.

Beijing also will reinstate a 25 per cent tariff on US-made vehicles and a 5 per cent tariff on auto parts that it had suspended in December at a time when US-China trade negotiations were gaining momentum.

China already has tariffs in place on about $110 billion worth of US products, ranging from 5 per cent to 25 per cent, including soybeans, beef, pork seafood, vegetables, liquefied natural gas, whiskey and ethanol. Based on 2018 imports, there are only about $10 billion worth of US imports untouched, with the largest category consisting of large commercial aircraft built by Boeing Co.

The Trump administration has previously excluded some Chinese-made household furniture including cribs and other baby safety products and bibles and other religious texts from the September 1 and December 15 rounds of tariffs.

Some of the products, including internet modems and routers, were removed because they had already been hit with 25 per cent tariffs previously, while others were taken out for safety or religious reasons. Chinese-made rosaries and religious medals, however, were still be hit with 15 per cent tariffs on September 1.

On Thursday, the office of the US Trade Representative said it would exclude dozens of products from the tariffs, including dog collars, some printed circuit boards used in computers, certain auto parts and Christmas tree lights.

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