WASHINGTON – China said Tuesday it will take “counter-measures” to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports and an American business group warned a “downward spiral” in their trade battle appears certain.
The Commerce Ministry gave no details of a possible response to U.S. tariffs imposed in the fight between the two biggest global economies over Beijing’s technology policy. But China previously released a $60 billion list of American goods for retaliation.
The Trump administration announced the tariffs on some 5,000 Chinese-made goods will start at 10 percent, beginning Monday. They rise to 25 percent on Jan. 1.
“We deeply regret this,” said a Commerce Ministry statement. “China will adopt countermeasures to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests and the global free trade order.”
The statement, which was unusually mild after months of angry public exchanges, didn’t say whether Beijing would back out of talks proposed last week by Washington. It said only that the tariff hike “brings new uncertainty to the consultations.”
The United States complains Chinese industry development plans including “Made in China 2025,” which calls for creating global champions in robotics and other fields, are based on stolen technology, violate Beijing’s market-opening commitments and might erode American industrial leadership.
Unlike the first two rounds of tariffs totaling $50 billion, the new taxes launched by Trump would more directly hit American consumers. As counterintuitive as it might seem, the president sees this fact as ultimately helping U.S. workers. In the end, he calculates, some short-term pain will lead to new trade policies and accords that will prove more favorable to American companies and individuals.
The result could be higher prices for American consumers, because most companies are expected to pass on the cost to their customers. After Trump announced tariffs on washing machines toward the start of 2018, the price for laundry equipment shot up 16 percent between February and May, according to an analysis by Mark Perry, an economics professor at the Flint campus of the University of Michigan and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.