The duties were a response to tariffs announced the day before (15 June) by the US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer on China-made meat preparation and poultry-keeping equipment.
The US action will see US$50 billion-worth of Chinese exports being hit by 25% duties.
They will cover China-made exports of poultry incubators and brooders; poultry-keeping machinery; and associated parts; as well as machinery for the preparation of meat or poultry; and machinery for preparing animal feeds. Tariffs will also be imposed on Chinese exports of packaging equipment.
USTR Lighthizer said the duties were designed to impede Chinese exporters from taking advantage of stealing American intellectual property and using it to make cheap technology to sell to the US, reducing the earnings of their US competitors.
“We must take strong defensive actions to protect America’s leadership in technology and innovation against the unprecedented threat posed by China’s theft of our intellectual property, the forced transfer of American technology, and its cyber attacks on our computer networks,” said Lighthizer.
According to international trade data, there are some significant trade flows under threat. At the top is meat and poultry processing equipment, of which China sold US$15.8m-worth in 2017. It also exported US$8.4m-worth of parts for poultry-keeping, brooding and incubating machinery; US$1.5m-worth of poultry incubators and brooders; US$685,000-worth of feeding stuff machinery; and US$769,000-worth of poultry-keeping machinery.
However, these export flows pale by comparison with the USA’s exports of pigmeat to China, which earned American producers US$237m last year (2017) and US$329m in 2016 – sales that are now under threat. The US exported US$6.1m-worth of beef to China in 2017 and US$1.4m-worth of chicken meat, according to international trade data.
China’s retaliatory duties cover a wide range of meat and poultry products, including duck, turkey and goose cuts, along with pigmeat, beef and chicken – see http://gss.mof.gov.cn/zhengwuxinxi/zhengcefabu/201806/P020180616034361843828.pdf
A spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Commerce said its government was disappointed, given the two countries have recently conducted rounds of consultations on bilateral trade.
“This move not only hurts bilateral interests, but also undermines world trade order. The Chinese side firmly opposes that,” the spokesperson said.
China had “no choice but to fight back forcefully to firmly safeguard the interests of the nation and its people and uphold economic globalisation and the multilateral trading system”, said a ministry statement.