published on June 15, 2018 - 12:36 PM
Written by ,

(AP) — President Donald Trump is hiking the price of Chinese-made forklift trucks and X-ray machines for American buyers.

They are part of a $50 billion list of Chinese exports targeted for a 25 percent tariff hike in response to complaints Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.

The list of 1,102 products issued Friday includes 818 remaining from a tentative list of 1,333 released in April. The U.S. government also released a second list of 284 additional products it said were being considered for tariffs.

It is the first direct impact on American consumers of the dispute over a state-led technology development strategy the White House says violates Beijing’s free-trade commitments and hurts foreign competitors.

More than a routine trade dispute, it reflects Washington’s unease that American technology leadership and prosperity might be eroded by China’s state-led efforts to compete in smartphones, electric cars, biotech and other fields.

Economists and businesspeople say Beijing is unlikely to give ground on a strategy seen by Communist leaders as the path to higher incomes and to restoring China’s rightful role as a global leader.

U.S. officials say the tariff hike targets goods that might benefit from Chinese theft of technology or pressure on foreign companies to hand it over in exchange for market access.

They point to plans stretching back two decades that call for state-led development of Chinese competitors in artificial intelligence, clean energy, electric cars, robotics, biotech and other fields. Foreign companies complain Beijing subsidizes fledgling Chinese developers and shields them from competition in violation of its free-trade commitments.

Trump is hardly the first foreign leader to complain.

Others have filed World Trade Organization complaints or lobbied Chinese leaders in person during visits to Beijing. But Trump has attacked head-on, threatening to disrupt Chinese exports.

In addition to forklifts and medical equipment, Friday’s list includes turbojet and marine engine parts, factory and food processing machinery and power generators.

Much of the list is industrial components and chemicals including steel pipe and parts used in TV sets and telecom equipment.

That could hurt emerging Chinese global brands including Huawei in telecoms, Mindray in medical equipment and Hisense in TVs.

The second list of possible additional products for tariff hikes includes batteries used in electric cars and optical fiber.

Business groups warn the tariffs are effectively a tax on American consumers, though the American Chamber of Commerce says Trump’s threat prompted Beijing to engage in more intensive negotiations than it has in years.

U.S. officials cite Beijing’s long-range development strategy, dubbed “Made in China 2025,” as emblematic of tactics they say hamper competition and will hurt American competitors.

It calls for creating Chinese global competitors in information technology, numerical control machinery and robotics, aerospace and aviation equipment, maritime engineering equipment and high-tech vessel manufacturing, advanced rail equipment, energy-saving and electric vehicles, electrical equipment, agricultural machinery, new materials and biopharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Foreign business groups have complained for a decade that Beijing is squeezing them out of promising fields. They say “Made in China 2025” appears to leave them little or no place in those industries.

Previous technology plans since the 1990s have targeted even broader areas including nuclear power, genetics, deep sea equipment, satellites and lasers.

China’s Commerce Ministry responded Friday by saying it would immediately impose penalties of “equal scale” on American goods. It gave no details but a $50 billion list of possible targets released in April included soybeans and light aircraft for possible retaliation.

April’s list of 106 products also included beef, whiskey and orange juice. That targets rural Trump supporters and reflects Chinese efforts to minimize losses by picking goods available from other suppliers.

Soybeans are the biggest U.S. export but other products on the list also are major earners. U.S. aviation-related exports to China totaled $13.2 billion in 2016.

It was unclear whether Beijing might try to make an exception for Chinese-owned U.S. exporters such as pork producer Smithfield Foods.

e-Newsletter Signup

Our weekly poll

Does the $2 trillion federal relief package go far enough to help Americans, economy?

Loading ... Loading ...

Central Valley Biz Blogs