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Trump Faces Down China As Tariff War Looms

Xi Jinping
"And then the American trade negotiator said 'I'll make you an offer you can't refuse'... what does that mean?"

President Donald Trump is expecting China to renegotiate existing trade deals, to balance out the trade deficit. However, if they fail to come to the table, the Administration is prepared to impose heavy tariffs until they comply.

Sarah Sanders, White House Press Secretary, told the reporters that they “would move forward” with the tariffs if Beijing does not make changes to their trade policies.

On Tuesday, a proposed list was released by the U.S Office of Trade Representative that contained an increase of 50 billion dollars in tariffs on 1300 imports by China, in an attempt to retaliate for an alleged theft of intellectual property. The list still has to be reviewed and may take as long as 2 months.

“We’re hopeful that China will do the right thing,” said Sanders. “Look, China created this problem, not President Trump but we’re hopeful.”

The tariffs are being pursued by the White House after years of economic discussions between Chinese and U.S. officials, which have resulted in “very very little movement from China and, in fact, we saw a number of areas where they were actually backsliding on commitments,” said a USTR official.

Though China has been given several opportunities, they have failed to address the concerns of the United States regarding intellectual property and technology theft, as stated by the official.

“The best response would be for them to change their behavior and live up to all the pledges they made in the past,” said the USTR official.

“We’re trying through talks, dialogue and through WTO litigation and through the potential of these tariffs to get China to change its actions … I think it’s been pretty obvious what we’ve been trying to do,” he added.

China, on the other hand, has retaliated against two tariff policies set by the White House. They have hit back with a 3 billion dollar tariff on exports made by the U.S. by imposing a duty of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum.

This act done by China has been declared baseless by the USTR official.

The request made by China under the WTO Safeguards Agreement for consultations “is completely baseless because the United States’ Section 232 tariffs address the national security threat posed by imports of steel and aluminum and are not part of a safeguard action.”

It is difficult to speculate what actions would the U.. take after such acts by China, said the official.

“Ultimately what we would like is a situation where the competition between our countries is based on hard work and innovation and not based on these types of market-distorting practices that they’ve engaged in,” he said.

“But it’s a difficult relationship because it’s very easy as the history shows to get them to promise to do things but it’s a lot more difficult to get them to do things,” added the USTR official.

Sanders has said that President Donald Trump, on the other hand, is not worried about these acts as he more concerned regarding “countries that have been taking advantage of us for decades he’s not going to allow that to happen anymore.“

“We may have a little bit of short-term pain but we’re going to have long-term success,” said Sanders to the reporters.


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