After weeks of escalating rhetoric between the U.S. and China, the opening shots in what analysts fear will devolve into a full-fledged trade war are set to go off at midnight.
That’s when the U.S. will impose a 25 percent tariff on $34 billion in Chinese industrial imports — a figure that could quickly grow to hundreds of billions of dollars if the battle continues to escalate, analysts say.
The White House is trying to pressure China to stop its illegal trade practices, which include intellectual property theft, according to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
“We must take strong defensive actions to protect America’s leadership in technology and innovation against the unprecedented threat posed by China’s theft of our intellectual property, the forced transfer of American technology, and its cyber attacks on our computer networks,” Lighthizer said. “China’s government is aggressively working to undermine America’s high-tech industries and our economic leadership through unfair trade practices and industrial policies like ‘Made in China 2025.’ Technology and innovation are America’s greatest economic assets and President Trump rightfully recognizes that if we want our country to have a prosperous future, we must take a stand now to uphold fair trade and protect American competitiveness.”
The trade skirmish started in March, when the administration announced it was enacting a 25 percent tax on imported steel and a 10 percent duty on aluminum in an effort to counteract unfair trade practices from China and other countries.
China quickly responded with its own list of popular U.S. exports to hit with extra taxes, including soybeans, wine, cashews and many products used in drilling and construction.
Both sides appear to be bracing for an escalation in the trade battle, which has also ensnared allies such as Canada, Mexico and the European Union since the White House removed a temporary exemption from the metal tariffs. All countries are retaliating with comparable tariffs on popular American-made products such as motorcycles, peanut butter and bourbon.