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G7, China warn against U.S. tariffs

By Ben Meyer / www.americanshipper.com / June 4th, 2018

G7, China warn against U.S. tariffsFinance ministers from the Group of Seven expressed “unanimous concern and disappointment,” while China threatened to pull out of U.S. trade negotiations entirely.

Economic leaders from the Group of Seven (G7) — which in addition to the United States consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom — and the Chinese government are warning the U.S. against the imposition of a wide range of tariffs.
   Finance ministers and the heads of central banks from G7 met for two days of discussions last week in Whistler, British Columbia, during which they expressed concerns “that the tariffs imposed by the United States on its friends and allies, on the grounds of national security, undermine open trade and confidence in the global economy,” according to a summary from the Canadian government, which is the current G7 chair and host of the group’s 44th annual summit event in Charlevoix, Quebec, this Friday and Saturday.
   The statement follows announcements last week that the United States would not exempt key trading partners and close military allies Canada, Mexico and the European Union from tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, a move that sparked widespread opposition from U.S. labor groups and federal lawmakers alike.
   First announced in early March, the 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent tariff on aluminum are pursuant to a Commerce Department investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 that found those imports pose a threat to national security, a claim with which U.S. security allies have taken issue.
   The G7 economic leaders in Whistler requested that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin “communicate their unanimous concern and disappointment” in the decision to President Donald Trump and his administration.
   Beijing, meanwhile, threatened to pull out of trade negotiations entirely if the United States moves forward with the previously announced imposition of tariffs on roughly $50 billion annually in Chinese goods.
   “If the U.S. introduces trade sanctions including a tariff increase, all the economic and trade achievements negotiated by the two parties will not take effect,” according to a report from the Chinese state-run Xinhua News Agency.
   It should be noted that these tariffs, imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Expansion Act, are completely separate from the Section 232 tariffs and are not based on any alleged national security concerns.
   The Trump administration last week announced it would move forward with those Section 301 tariffs just over one week after Mnuchin said it would put its proposal on hold in order to continue trade negotiations with China in good faith. The Treasury secretary later clarified that China would still be subject to the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum, regardless of any bilateral deal.
   The latest comments from the Chinese government followed several weeks of meetings between delegations led by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Chinese State Council Vice Premier Liu He, special envoy of President Xi Jinping, in Washington, D.C., and China.
   Beijing and the White House issued a joint statement two weeks ago that said both sides had agreed to take steps to “substantially” reduce the bilateral trade imbalance between the United States and China, increase U.S. exports of agriculture and energy, and enhance protections for intellectual property.
   “To implement the consensus reached in Washington, the two sides have had good communication in various areas such as agriculture and energy, and have made positive and concrete progress while relevant details are yet to be confirmed by both sides,” the Chinese government said Sunday.
   “The attitude of the Chinese side remains consistent,” the statement read, adding that the government is open to increasing foreign imports in order to meet surging demand in China. “Reform and opening up as well as expanding domestic demand are China’s national strategies. Our set pace will not change.”
   Beijing warned, however, that any “economic and trade outcomes of the talks will not take effect if the US side imposes any trade sanctions including raising tariffs.”

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