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China Levies New Tariffs on U.S. Imports, Commits To Defending Core Principles

May 13, 2019 (EIRNS)—Today China authorities announced the imposition of tariffs on some $60 billion of U.S. imported goods, affecting 5,000 items, at rates from 5 to 25%. From Washington, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative today posted more details on the timing and levels of the new tariffs the Trump Administration announced May 10, on $250 billion of Chinese imports. In the midst of this, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has been invited back to China, though no schedule has been set, according Director of the White House National Economic Council Larry Kudlow, speaking last night to Fox News.

Kudlow made a point of telling his host at two different times that President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping may meet in June at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan; he said that, there is a “strong possibility” of such a Trump-Xi meeting, and chances for it are “pretty good.” Otherwise, Kudlow asserted semantics that the U.S. imposition of tariffs during discussions is not trade war, but “part of the enforcement process” to get an acceptable deal. He said, “Both sides will pay” during the process. But the U.S. burden will be “de minimis,” whereas China will “suffer a diminishing export market.” He respected the host’s figures on how much more per year a U.S. family of four might now have to pay annually under the new tariffs regime ($767/year), and how many U.S. jobs might be lost (934,700), but Kudlow replied that “The U.S. economy is in a boom—growth, jobs, wages, productivity.” So whatever has to be done to correct 20 years of bad trade policy should be done. He said that “the toughest burden is on farmers,” and that the administration will take some of the customs duty money and help the farmers.

Over the weekend, China’s main negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, reiterated the three points of principle that China regards as core concerns, about which it will make no concessions. They are: 1) the complete removal of all trade-war related tariffs; 2) setting targets for Chinese purchases of imported goods that are in line with demand; and 3) ensuring that the text of the deal is “balanced” to ensure the “dignity” of both nations.

In regards to this last point, Chinese leaders have stressed that they will not accede to any stipulation that Chinese law will be changed as part of the trade deal. No. They will commit to administrative and regulatory means to comply with a deal, but will not pledge to change their laws.

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