The pressure of a trade war between China and the US continued to build as President Trump signed a memorandum on Thursday afternoon, the Financial Times reports, formally announcing to place 25% tariffs on $60 billion of Chinese imports.
US officials have 15 days to run-up a shortlist of products to be subject to the duties. Targets will be high-tech industries in 10 key sectors, prioritised by President Xi Jinping in his “Made in China 2025” initiative, such as robotics, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, and rail equipment.
The memorandum invoked Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act, a piece of legislation that has underpinned an investigation by the Trump administration into alleged theft of US intellectual property by Chinese firms.
Trump called the measures “an historic move” that will “make us a much stronger, richer nation”. Referring to the US’s $375 billion trade deficit with China, he said it was “the largest deficit of any country in the history of our world. It is out of control.”
There has been considerable opposition from both sides of the aisle, as well as private businesses. Chairman of the Senate finance committee Orrin Hatch said that “hitting billions in goods with tariffs runs the risk of putting a bigger dent in the pocketbooks of American families across the country.”