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Trade war back on with China?

30 May 2018, 12:16 | Marta Robbins

White House Moves Ahead With Tough Trade Measures on China

Auto exports to the US by country for 2017

China's state media has lashed into a USA announcement that it would press ahead with restrictions on investment by Chinese companies, saying Beijing was ready to fight back if Washington was looking to ignite a trade war.

The Trump administration on Tuesday moved forward with restrictions on Chinese investment in the U.S. and tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods despite talks that seemed to alleviate trade tensions between the two countries.

Likewise, the United States will request that China remove all of its many trade barriers, including non-monetary trade barriers, which make it both hard and unfair to do business there, it said.

The White House also said new restrictions on Chinese investment and enhanced export controls will be announced by June 30, with implementation soon after.

A USA advance team was scheduled to arrive in Beijing Wednesday afternoon, the people said, ahead of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's planned arrival on Saturday.

The changes come as Trump seeks to crack down on China's trade practices, especially those related to cutting-edge industries that Beijing wants to dominate.

The changes are part of the National Security Strategy that attempts to prevent US intellectual property from being transferred to competitors, the official said, without offering more specifics. Despite being one of the administration's leading protectionist voices early on, Ross was initially left off a May trade delegation to China led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

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The tariffs and investment restrictions, as well as a case brought by the USA against China before the World Trade Organisation, are the outcome of an investigation launched previous year into intellectual property practices in China.

But the White House said on Tuesday that a final list of imports slated for tariffs will be published by 15 June. The order followed a report from the U.S. Trade Representative's office regarding Chinese trade practices and stealing of U.S. intellectual property.

However, Mr Trump suggested last week that there was some unease about the talks. The group cited research from Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, who estimates that USA pork producers have lost $2.2 billion on an annualized basis as a result of events leading up to and following China's 25 percent punitive tariff on pork.

The National Retail Federation on Tuesday said it was "disappointed" with the new White House communications, saying the tariffs would raise prices, kill jobs and spur costly retaliation.

"We are surprised by the strategic statement released by the White House, but, at the same time, it is somewhat expected", the statement said.

Trump also said a deal to ease sanctions on the Chinese tech giant ZTE would be forthcoming.

"When the leadership of the trade agenda is oscillating between Mnuchin and Lighthizer, it doesn't motivate anyone - particularly the Chinese - to start making major concessions", Altbach said. China has made similar promises to act better on trade with the U.S.in the past.



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