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21 Jun, 2018 10:56

Tit-for-tat: World responds to Trump's tariffs with levies on US goods

Tit-for-tat: World responds to Trump's tariffs with levies on US goods

The trade war that captured the world over recent months has deepened with more countries responding to US tariffs, while others are pledging to toughen already introduced retaliatory measures.

The Chinese commerce ministry said the country is “fully prepared” to hit back against any protective steps Washington may potentially take. The response comes as US President Donald Trump threatened Beijing with another $200 billion in tariffs in addition to the $50 billion already imposed.

“It is deeply regrettable that the US has been capricious, escalated the tensions, and provoked a trade war,” said Chinese commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng, Thursday. “The US is accustomed to holding ‘big sticks’ for negotiations, but this approach does not apply to China.”

In the meantime, India increased import tariffs on a number of goods worth $240 million in response to US levies on steel and aluminum exports shipped from the South Asian nation. The 70 percent tariffs targeting chickpeas will come into effect on August 4.

In March, Washington imposed an import tax of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum from China and several other nations, including Russia, India, Japan and Turkey. At end of the last month, the measure was extended to the EU, Canada and Mexico, which were initially exempted.

Echoing the tit-for-tat steps taken by India and China, Turkey’s Ministry of Economy announced tariffs worth $267 million on US imports, as talks with Washington failed to achieve any progress. The list includes such products as coal, paper, walnuts, tobacco, rice, whiskey and cars.

“Turkey is committed to active, robust and reciprocal trade relations with the US — but with the understanding that fairness cannot be one-sided,” the country’s Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said. “We cannot and will not allow Turkey to be wrongly blamed for America's economic challenges.”

On Wednesday, the European Commission said that it approved initial retaliatory tariffs on US goods worth $3.2 billion. The primary list includes motorcycles, motor boats, orange juice, bourbon, peanut butter, cigarettes and denim. The second batch of US exports worth around $4.3 billion will become the next target for tariffs, if the heated trade dispute continues.

“We did not want to be in this position,” EU trade official Cecilia Malmstrom said, commenting on the decision. “The unilateral and unjustified decision of the US to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the EU means that we are left with no other choice.”

Earlier this week, Russian economy ministry pledged to retaliate against Washington’s unilaterally imposed steel and aluminum tariffs. Last month, Russia informed the World Trade Organization (WTO) about possible retaliatory measures in the amount of $538 million – exactly the same sum the country is going to lose due to US levies.

“The US continues to apply protective measures by imposing additional import duties on steel and aluminum, and refuses to provide compensation for Russia's losses. That is why Russia is using its WTO rights and introducing balancing measures with respect to imports from the United States,” Economic Development Minister Maksim Oreshkin said on Tuesday.

Last month, Japan's Foreign Ministry announced plans to impose tariffs on US goods worth $451 million — equivalent to the impact of US levies recently imposed on Japanese metal products.

India and the EU also opened a WTO dispute over the US measures that are seen as protectionist. In accordance with the trade body’s regulations, safeguard measures should trigger payments from the US to major exporters. China followed suit, having addressed the WTO with its objections, while Turkey pledged to take the similar step in the near future, according to the economy minister.

Topping it off, US neighbors Canada and Mexico also vowed to strike back at the metal tariffs, accusing the US of protectionism. Canada said it would tax US imports of steel, aluminum and such goods as whiskey, orange juice and other food products, while Mexico is planning to impose levies on US flat steel, pork, sausages and food preparations, apples, grapes, cranberries and various cheeses.

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