China hits back at ‘extreme’ tariffs from rival economies


China has criticised “extreme” tariffs on its exports amid concerns in Beijing that Donald Trump will embark on a policy of protectionism as US president.

Trump has pledged to hit Chinese goods with tariffs of up to 45% and said cheap imports are “killing” US manufacturers.

The president-elect has also appointed one of China’s fiercest critics to key trade post and said he will label the Asian country a currency manipulator on his first day in office, 20 January.

But China’s ministry of commerce says it has already been hit with a record number of retaliatory trade measures from rival economies and trading blocs in 2016.

These included an increase in European Union steel tariffs as Brussels moved to protect the struggling industry from “dumping” of cheap Chinese product.

“Trade disputes are becoming increasingly politicised, measures are increasingly extreme and final tariff rates are relatively high,” said ministry spokesman Sun Jiwen.

He singled out measures taken against China’s steel, solar panel, ceramics and tyre industries.

Fears of a trade war between China and the US have been heightened by Trump’s appointments to key White House trade posts.

Economist Peter Navarro, author of books including Death By China and The Coming China Wars, will lead Trump’s White House National Trade Council, and will also serve as director of trade and industrial policy.

The Harvard-educated hardliner accused “cheating China” of destroying both American factories and lives by flooding the US with illegally subsidised and “contaminated, defective and cancerous” exports.

American politicians must “aggressively and comprehensively address the China problem” before it leads to full-blown conflict, Navarro has written.

In a 2012 Netflix documentary based on Death by China, which Trump has described as “right on”, Navarro blames Beijing for the loss of 57,000 American factories and 25m jobs.

While Trump has repeatedly blamed China for undermining US manufacturing, European officials have also accused the People’s Republic of unfair trade practices, such as flooding the market with cheap goods backed by state subsidies.

The accusations have been particularly loud in Europe’s struggling steel industry, leading to Brussels slapping some Chinese imports with tariffs of up to 74% in October last year.

Business minister Sajid Javid faced fierce criticism in the UK for opposing the EU’s plans to protect steelmakers, as Tata Steel flirted with collapse.

China highlighted a raft of barriers it said had been erected to protect foreign firms from its exports.

The commerce ministry said 2016 saw 27 countries and regions impose 119 separate trade policies against China, to a value of $14.34bn, up 76% from the previous year.

Twenty-one countries and regions took 49 remedies against Chinese steel, which it said cost $7.9bn, up 63.1% from 2015.

The Guardian


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