U.S. tariffs on solar panels and washers are the first in a series of trade actions expected to be levied by Washington. A White House official briefed reporters recently, saying the U.S. plans to make trade enforcement against China in 2018 a top focus.
CGTN’s White House Correspondent, Jessica Stone reports.
Since last Spring, the Trump administration has launched a series of investigations — into alleged unfair trade practices in solar, steel, aluminum — and intellectual property.
Each one names China as a possible cause of injury to U.S. competitors.
In announcing additional tariffs on solar imports Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump cast himself as the protector-in-chief.
Former U.S. trade official, Stephen Kho expects Trump will announce more trade penalties directed at Beijing- ahead of his State of the Union Address on January 30th.
“It’s the best place for Trump to be able to announce everything,” Stephen Kho, an attorney with Akin Gump Straus Hauer said, “and look like he’s being strong on trade and against China.”
China economist, Yukon Huang says some of Trump’s complaints are more about sending that message, than about addressing the true reasons why U.S. domestic production has suffered.
Trade penalties on steel imports is one example. “China only accounts for one, two, three percent at most of American steel imports,” Yukon said, adding “the bulk comes from Canada, Europe and other countries.”
But sending that message comes at a cost. In the case of this week’s solar and washer tariffs, China promised to “resolutely defend its interests.” The Republic of Korea pledged to file a complaint to the World Trade Organization. Europeans expressed fears that U.S. protectionism would hurt them too.
In the generation since Trump’s key trade advisors were last in government, the global supply chain has tightened, linking the fates of Asian manufacturers to U.S. workers, companies, and consumers. That means penalties on imports could mean layoffs at home, and higher bills for American families.
So far, American and Chinese officials are publicly committed to avoiding a trade war, but tensions could escalate. Earlier this week at Davos, the U.S. Commerce Secretary said the U.S. intends to fend off what it calls “Chinese protectionism,” especially in the high-tech sector.