Tariff wars: Duties imposed by Trump and US trading partners

News May 31, 2019 1 Comment

Tariff wars: Duties imposed by Trump and US trading partners

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Thursday (May 30) he would impose 5 per cent tariffs on all goods imported into the United States from Mexico and raise them every month until they reached 25 per cent unless the Mexican government takes action to stem illegal immigration.

The tariffs open up a new front in Trump’s trade wars, which until now have been aimed at procuring better terms of trade for the United States and combat what he calls unfair practices by China, the European Union and others.

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READ: Trump to impose 5% tariff on Mexican imports over illegal immigration
READ: US says end of India trade preference ‘done deal’

Trump has rattled the world trade order with unilateral tariffs, the bulk of them aimed at China and covering US$250 billion worth of Chinese goods so far.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has launched the process to impose tariffs on all remaining imports from China, another US$300 billion worth of goods.

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MEXICAN TARIFFS ON UNITED STATES

  • Mexico has not yet announced if it would retaliate should Trump go ahead with the tariffs. Typically, tariffs are reciprocated. Mexico’s President Andrew Manuel Lopez Obrador has ordered his foreign minister to the United States for talks.

US TARIFFS ON CHINA

  • 25 per cent tariffs on US$50 billion worth of Chinese technology goods including machinery, semiconductors, autos, aircraft parts and intermediate electronics components imposed on Jul 6 and Aug 23 as part of “Section 301” probe into China’s intellectual property practices.
  • 25 per cent tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods including computer modems and routers, printed circuit boards, chemicals, building materials and furniture. A 10 per cent tariff on these goods was imposed on Sep 24, 2018 as a response to Chinese retaliation. Trump increased the tariff rate to 25 per cent on May 10 after accusing China of backtracking on earlier commitments in the talks.
  • Trump also on May 10 directed USTR to start a public comment process for imposing 25 per cent tariffs on remaining Chinese imports. This US$300 billion category of goods would hit consumer products hard, including cell phones, computers, clothing, toys and other consumer products.
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CHINESE TARIFFS ON UNITED STATES

  • China on May 13 announced it would increase tariffs on a revised list of 5,140 US products, worth about $60 billion, after Trump’s latest move. The additional tariff of 25 per cent will be levied on 2,493 products, including liquefied natural gas, soy oil, peanut oil, petrochemicals, frozen minerals and cosmetics. Other products will see tariffs of 5 per cent to 20 per cent
  • 25 per cent tariffs on US$50 billion worth of US goods including soybeans, beef, pork, seafood, vegetables, whiskey, ethanol, imposed on Jul 6 and Aug 23 in retaliation for initial rounds of US tariffs. China had suspended a 25 per cent duty on US auto imports during their trade negotiations. Beijing has resumed some purchases of US soybeans but has not formally suspended those tariffs.
  • Based on 2018 US Census Bureau trade data, China would only have about US$10 billion in US imports left to levy in retaliation for any future US tariffs. Retaliation could come in other forms, such as increased regulatory hurdles for US companies doing business in China.

READ: US, China need to work out ‘constructive cooperation’ to achieve stable global order, says DPM Heng

US GLOBAL TARIFFS

  • 25 per cent tariffs on imported steel and 10 per cent tariffs on imported aluminum, imposed on Mar 23, 2018 on national security grounds. Exemptions have been granted to Argentina, Australia, Brazil and South Korea in exchange for quotas. Canada and Mexico were exempted from the tariffs earlier this month. In response, both countries lifted their retaliatory tariffs on the United States.
  • 20 per cent to 50 per cent tariffs on imported washing machines, imposed on Jan 22, 2018 as a “global safeguard” action to protect US producers Whirlpool and GE Appliances, a unit of China’s Haier Electronics Group.
  • 30 per cent tariffs on imported solar panels, imposed on Jan 22, 2018 as a “global safeguard” action to protect US producers Solar World, based in Germany, and Suniva, owned by China’s Shunfeng International Clean Energy
  • Trump is considering tariffs of around 25 per cent on imported cars and auto parts, based on a US Commerce Department study of whether such imports threaten US national security. He faces a May 18 deadline to act on Commerce’s recommendations.
  • The new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement protects Canadian and Mexican production in the event of such tariffs through a quota system. Trump has pledged not to impose auto tariffs on Japan and the European Union while trade negotiations with those partners are underway.

EUROPEAN UNION TARIFFS ON UNITED STATES

  • The European Union on Jun 22 imposed import duties of 25 per cent on a US$2.8 billion range of imports from the United States in retaliation for US tariffs on European steel and aluminum. Targeted US products include Harley-Davidson motorcycles, bourbon, peanuts, blue jeans, steel and aluminum.

INDIA TARIFF THREAT

  • India, the world’s biggest buyer of US almonds, has threatened to raise import duties on the nuts by 20 per cent and increase tariffs on a range of other farm products and US iron and steel, in retaliation for US tariffs on Indian steel. These tariffs have been delayed several times, and are currently scheduled to come into effect on Jun 16.
  • Trump has said that he intends to end preferential trade treatment for India, which would result in US tariffs on up to $5.6 billion of imports from India. This has not happened, but if it does, India is expected to retaliate with tariffs on US goods.

DUELING TARIFFS WITH TURKEY

  • The United States halved tariffs in May to 25 per cent on Turkish steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminum. It had doubled US duty rates on steel and aluminum from Turkey 50 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively, in August 2018 citing national security and currency concerns in an escalating trade spat between the NATO allies.
  • Turkey said it would cut its tariffs on some US goods in response to the US reduction. It has tariffs on US$1.8 billion worth of US goods, including motor vehicles, alcoholic beverages, rice, structural steel and beauty products.
  • Trump ended preferential trade treatment for Turkey effective May 17, a move that imposes tariffs on about US$1.66 billion of Turkish imports.

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