Despite the resumption of low-level Sino-U.S. trade talks in Washington, China on Thursday imposed a 25% tariff on a range of American-made goods valued at $16 billion, including coal and petroleum products, in retaliation for the Trump administration levying a tariff of similar size and scope on the same day.
In a translated statement, China's Commerce Ministry said it would file a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the ongoing dispute.
"The United States has been willing to go its own way,” the ministry said. “China firmly opposes and has to continue to make the necessary counterattacks.” It said a WTO complaint is necessary "to defend free trade and the multilateral system and defend [China's] legitimate rights and interests."
Earlier this month, China released a list of 333 U.S.-made products that would be subject to a 25% tariff, should the United States move forward with a similar tariff on 279 Chinese-made goods. Beijing's list included liquefied petroleum gas, oil shale, propane, butane, diesel and fuel oils, but it excluded crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Still, LNG appeared on an earlier list of products that could be taxed if the Trump administration moves forward with a 25% tariff on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
"The trade war still appears to be intensifying, despite the resumption of sub-ministerial-level U.S.-China trade talks” underway in Washington, DC, ClearView Energy Partners LLC said in a note to clients Wednesday. ClearView said on Aug. 3 Beijing had proposed levying a tariff on U.S. LNG in retaliation for the $200 billion tariff, if it were enacted.
U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer's office on Monday initiated a series of six public hearings over a proposed 10% tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods; the final hearing is scheduled for Monday (Aug. 27). The tariffs could be enacted sometime after Aug. 30, the deadline for submitting post-hearing rebuttal comments to USTR. Analysts said the tariff could be finalized by mid-September.
In tit-for-tat moves, China and the United States on July 6 each enacted a 25% tariff on $34 billion of imports by each other. Chinese products subject to the U.S. tariff included parts for offshore drilling. Beijing since May 1 has also been subject to a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum. The trade dispute has also upended plans for Chinese state-owned companies to invest in billions in gas-related projects in West Virginia and the Alaska LNG Project.