US tariff proposals target Chinese tech

Investors and businesses have been awaiting details of US President Donald Trump’s plan to place tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods

In this Aug. 23, 2017, photo, exhibitors prepare Chinese-made robots at the World Robot Conference at the Yichuang International Conference and Exhibition Centre in Beijing. China On Wednesday, April 4, 2018 vowed to take measures of the "same strength" in response to a proposed U.S. tariff hike on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods in a spiraling dispute over technology policy that has fueled fears it might set back a global economic recovery. The Commerce Ministry said it would immediately challenge the U.S. move in the World Trade Organization. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

The US proposed imposing tariffs on a range of Chinese-made products worth about $50 billion, focusing on high tech products while seeking to minimise the impact on US consumers.

“This level is appropriate both in light of the estimated harm to the the US economy, and to obtain elimination of China’s harmful acts, policies and practices,” the US Trade Representative’s office said. The list covers about 1,300 tariff lines, the USTR said, referring to a system of codes used to categorise products.

Investors and businesses have been awaiting details of US President Donald Trump’s plan to place tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had until April 6 to publish a list of proposed products. There’s a 60-day period when the public can provide feedback and the government holds hearings on the tariffs.

Mr Trump said March 22 the tariffs were aimed at penalising Beijing for what the US alleges to be theft of American companies’ intellectual property. The president’s recent trade actions, which also include duties on steel and aluminium, have provoked concerns of a global trade war. China imposed tariffs of its own in response to Mr Trump’s actions on metal imports, and has threatened additional retaliation if he erects further trade barriers.


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The list of products the US hits with tariffs will line up with technologies China identified in its “Made in China 2025” strategy, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said on March 28.

“China, in my view, brazenly has released this China 2025 plan that basically told the rest of the world, ‘We’re going to dominate every single emerging industry of the future, and therefore your economies aren’t going to have a future',” MrNavarro said. “It’s artificial intelligence, robotics, quantum computing.”

Made in China 2025 was announced in 2015, and highlighted 10 sectors for support on the way to China becoming an advanced manufacturing power: information technology, high-end machinery and robotics, aerospace, marine equipment and ships, advanced rail transport, new-energy vehicles, electric power, agricultural machinery, new materials, and bio-medical. In addition, China has a separate development strategy for artificial intelligence, published in 2017.

US retailers have been concerned the tariffs may edge into consumer products such as shoes and clothing, hitting companies including Walmart and Target.