- President Trump set to approve a new list of $50 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods, according to press reports.
- Spain is already suffering at the hands of US tariffs, with its olive industry particularly impacted.
President Trump is set to impose fresh tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports, in a step that could further escalate the president’s burgeoning trade war with many of its closest partners.
Trump will approve the tariffs on Friday, Bloomberg reported overnight, citing two people familiar with the president’s thinking.
The president will also unveil a slightly altered list of goods that will be impacted by tariffs, with Reuters reporting that it will be smaller than the initial list, first proposed back at the start of April.
“The president’s trade team has recommended tariffs. If there are not tariffs, it will be because the president has decided that he’s not ready to implement tariffs,” a person familiar with the administration’s deliberations said, according to the same Reuters report.
The US’s initial list of Chinese goods to impose tariffs against included a wide array of products such as raw materials, construction machinery, agricultural equipment, electronics, medical devices, and consumer goods.
The goods on the list targeted specific industries that China identified as part of its Made in China 2025 plan. These industries, such as aerospace and agricultural equipment, are growth areas the Chinese government hopes to develop over the next seven years.
China said it would retaliate against the tariffs.
“If the United States takes unilateral, protectionist measures, harming China’s interests, we will quickly react and take necessary steps to resolutely protect our fair, legitimate rights,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular daily news briefing, according to the Associated Press.
The trade spat could boost prices for raw materials and food, leading to higher rates of inflation and a potential recession, according to Gary Cohn, Trump’s former top economic adviser.
“If you end up with a tariff battle, you will end up with price inflation, and you could end up with consumer debt. Those are all historic ingredients for an economic slowdown,” Cohn said at an event sponsored by The Washington Post.
At the same event, Cohn said the US needs to “enforce the rule of law” on China’s perceived theft of US intellectual property.
Pain in Spain
As Trump prepares to impose the new tariffs on China, there is already evidence that his programme is having a negative impact on some areas of industry and agriculture in Europe. In Spain’s Andalusia region, olive producers are reporting damage to their businesses already, in relation to the tariffs.
The Guardian reports that a European Commission spokesman confirmed that exports of black olives from the region to the US fell by more than 40% at the start of 2018, with the spokesman noting that olive production in Andalusia has “a very significant economic and social impact.”
“The decision by the US Department of Commerce to impose unreasonably high and prohibitive anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties on Spanish olives is simply unacceptable,” the commission spokesman said.
Earlier in the week, the US Department of Commerce said that it will need to impose tariffs of between 7% and 27% on Spanish olives, because it believes producers in Spain are undercutting US rivals, by selling their product for as much as 26% less than it is worth.
“This is a protectionist measure targeting a high-quality and successful EU product popular with US consumers,” the spokesman added.
Spain’s newly appointed agricultural minister, Luis Planas, also opposed the tariff’s impact, saying it is unjust.
“It’s an unfair measure because it has no economic or technical basis and it’s worrying as it could call into question the rules governing international trade,” Planas said, adding that he will raise the issue at an upcoming meeting of EU agricultural ministers.