The Chinese government plans to immediately impose tariffs on 128 U.S. products, including pork and certain fruits, a direct response to President Trump’s recent moves to pursue numerous trade restrictions against Beijing.
If U.S. goods become more expensive in China, Chinese buyers could opt to purchase products from Europe, South America or elsewhere, though White House officials have routinely discounted the likelihood of this.
Beijing’s move could force Trump to decide whether to follow through on expansive trade restrictions he had hoped would crack down on China even if Beijing is now threatening to harm U.S. companies that rely on Asian markets for buyers.
The Chinese government said the tariffs would effectively serve as retaliation for restrictions Trump announced last month.
In early March, Trump said he planned to apply steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Since then, he has exempted numerous countries, but he has not waived the impact on China.
And in late March, Trump took additional steps toward imposing tariffs on $60 billion in Chinese goods and limiting China’s ability to invest in the U.S. technology industry. He has alleged that the U.S. government had been too complacent in allowing Chinese firms to steal U.S. intellectual property and abuse trade rules. He has accused China of trade practices that led to the closure of 60,000 factories and the loss of 6 million jobs.
His new, unilateral trade steps, though, shocked many U.S. businesses and foreign leaders, particularly because Trump had taken a more cautious approach in his first year, seeming to dial back some of the populist trade rhetoric he made during the 2016 campaign. Beijing promised to respond quickly, however.
A number of U.S. business groups have warned that these tariffs could backfire because they could make it harder for American companies to sell goods overseas if other nations retaliate, but Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross have expressed skepticism that the impact of these moves would be substantial.