China Retaliates Against Latest U.S. Tariffs With Its Own Hike On American Goods

6 hours ago
Originally published on May 13, 2019 4:16 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

China hit back against the U.S. today, the latest move in a growing trade war. American exporters of construction equipment, batteries, even coffee are going to face higher tariffs than before.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

President Trump last week expanded tariffs on Chinese goods as trade talks broke down. Today at the White House, he said, don't worry; the U.S. has made a mint from those tariffs.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Our farmers will be very happy. Our manufacturers will be very happy. And our government is very happy because we're taking in tens of billions of dollars. I think it's working out very well.

CORNISH: We'll hear the view from U.S. manufacturers in a moment.

SHAPIRO: Right now, let's get the view from China. NPR's Rob Schmitz joins us from Shanghai. Hi, Rob.

ROB SCHMITZ, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

SHAPIRO: OK, tell us more about what China announced today.

SCHMITZ: Well, today, China's raised tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods on a wide range of products from what they were - around 5% or 10% - to now 20% to 25%. Some pretty significant increases there.

SHAPIRO: You said a wide range of goods. Give us a sense of what kinds of products we're talking about here.

SCHMITZ: Yeah. We're talking about agricultural products. They make up a big part of what will soon be much more expensive products for Chinese consumers - all sorts of fruits, vegetables, grains. You've also got meat, like lamb and beef. The U.S. chemical industry will also be hit hard here. Tariffs on imported chemicals from the U.S. will go up pretty high. And at this stage, if the U.S. exports it to China, it's almost certain it will soon have a pretty steep tariff on it.

SHAPIRO: So the U.S. last week said it was going to hike existing tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. Now, China's retaliation is only on 60 billion in U.S. goods. That's, I mean, roughly a quarter...

SCHMITZ: Right.

SHAPIRO: ...A little more than that. Why is this not matching amounts?

SCHMITZ: Because China effectively ran out of U.S. goods to impose tariffs on. China exports more products to the U.S. than the U.S. exports to China, so the U.S. has leverage when it comes to tariffs.

But one important thing to keep in mind here, Ari - some media have declared China has retaliated. Well, this might just be the beginning of the retaliation. We do not know what else may come in the following days or weeks. Beijing has run out of U.S. goods to place tariffs on, but it could start to get creative with its punishment and begin making things more difficult on the ground here for U.S. companies that operate inside of China.

SHAPIRO: Like forcing companies out, making them comply with strict rules? What do you mean, making things difficult on the ground?

SCHMITZ: Well, we've seen China's government do this against South Korean companies two years ago when Beijing became angry about the country's deployment of an anti-missile system. China's government came up with all sorts of excuses to stop work at South Korean companies, instituted a travel ban for Chinese tourists to go to South Korea. And then it began a government-led boycott on all South Korean products. So it's certainly possible we may see more countermeasures in the coming days and weeks out of Beijing.

SHAPIRO: Rob, I also want to ask you about the timing of these tariffs because when the Trump administration made this announcement, they said tariffs would go up on goods that left China's shores after the announcement. Beijing now says its new tariffs won't take effect until June 1. Do you think negotiators are trying to leave themselves wiggle room?

SCHMITZ: Yeah, it seems like it. China could've instituted these tariffs last Friday if it wanted to, but it waited until Monday. And even today, it announced it was waiting two weeks to raise these tariffs, knowing full well that two weeks would be enough time for the U.S. stock market to show some real damage - you know, Beijing certainly understands how focused President Trump is on the health of the U.S. stock market - and for the Trump administration to weigh its options and consider meeting with the Chinese in Beijing to try and end all of this before more damage is inflicted.

But now that the ball's back in the Trump administration's court, the president may make good on a promise to inflict even more damage on China's economy. He's asked his staff to begin the paperwork on yet another round of tariffs on the remaining $300 billion worth of everything else that China sells to the U.S.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Rob Schmitz in Shanghai. Thanks.

SCHMITZ: Thanks, Ari. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.