Trump tightens tariffs on Chinese imports

By Country News

The United States will impose 10 per cent tariffs on $US200billion worth of Chinese imports, but has spared smart watches from Apple and Fitbit and other consumer products such as bicycle helmets and baby car seats.

Announcing the new round of tariffs last week, US President Donald Trump warned if China took retaliatory action against US farmers or industries, ‘‘we will immediately pursue phase three, which is tariffs on approximately $US267billion of additional imports’’.

The iPhone was not among the ‘wide range’ of products that Apple told regulators would be hit by the $US200billion round of tariffs.

But if the Trump administration enacts a further $US267billion round of tariffs, the iPhone — along with all other smart phones — are likely to be included in the list.

Collection of tariffs on the long-anticipated list will start September 24 but the rate will increase to 25 per cent by the end of 2018, allowing US companies some time to adjust their supply chains to alternate countries, a senior administration official said.

So far, the US has imposed tariffs on $US50billion worth of Chinese products to pressure China to make sweeping changes to its trade, technology transfer and high-tech industrial subsidy policies.

The escalation of Trump’s tariffs on China comes after talks between the world’s two largest economies to resolve their trade differences have produced no results.

China has vowed to retaliate further against any new US tariffs, with state-run media calling for an aggressive ‘‘counter-attack’’.

The US Trade Representative’s office eliminated about 300 product categories from the proposed tariff list, along with some sub-sets of other categories, but administration officials said the total value of the revised list would still be about ‘‘$US200billion’’.

A broad, $US23billion category of internet-connected devices will remain subject to tariffs, but some products — such as smart watches, Bluetooth devices, and other consumer-focused technology products — were removed following a lengthy public vetting period during which more than 6000 comments were received.

Also spared from the tariffs were Chinese inputs for US-produced chemicals used in manufacturing, textiles and agriculture.

Consumer safety products made in China, such as bicycle helmets sold by Vista Outdoor and baby car seats and other products from Graco Inc, also were taken off the list.

But the adjustments did little to appease technology and retail groups who argued the tariffs would hit consumers hard.

‘‘Tariffs are a tax on American families, period,’’ Retail Industry Leaders Association vice-president for international trade Hun Quach said.

‘‘Consumers — not China — will bear the brunt of these tariffs and American farmers and ranchers will see the harmful effects of retaliation worsen.’’