The Chinese government says it will immediately impose tariffs as high as 25 percent on 128 U.S. products. On Sunday, a Twitter post from the English-language “People’s Daily” read: “China imposes tariffs on 128 items of imports from the U.S. including pork and fruit products starting Monday as a countermeasure in response to a previous U.S. move to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports: Ministry of Finance.”
The Chinese government said the tariffs would effectively serve as retaliation for restrictions President Trump announced last month. In early March, Trump said he planned to apply steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Later in the month, he took steps toward imposing tariffs on $60 billion in Chinese goods.
Trump has for years accused the Chinese government of unfair trade practices. In 2017, China exported $505 billion in goods to the U.S. while importing $135 billion in goods from U.S. companies. Trump claims that the trade imbalance has led to the closure of 60,000 factories and the loss of 6 million jobs. Many other foreign leaders have agreed that China unfairly subsidizes its businesses and has devalued its currency at times to boost exports.
In a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Finance, the government said the new tariffs “caused serious damage to our interests.” A number of U.S. business groups have warned that the tariffs could backfire if they make it harder for American companies to sell goods in China. Chinese buyers could opt to purchase products from Europe or South America if U.S. goods become more expensive.
Supporters of Trump’s trade approach say his actions will help U.S. workers by creating more jobs and boosting U.S. exports abroad. However, a number of U.S. agriculture firms have warned they could get caught in the middle of a trade war between the countries. According to the National Pork Producers Council, its members exported $1.1 billion in pork to China last year, making it the third-largest market for American pork.
China is not the only country Trump has taken aim at on the trade issue. On Sunday, the president posted on Twitter that he was considering withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement if Mexico doesn’t do more to stop immigrants from entering the United States. The tweet came after a news report claiming that a caravan of South American migrants were on their way to the U.S. through Mexico and that Mexico wasn’t planning to do anything to stop it.