Tax & Accounting Blog

President Trump vs. Asia: The Latest on The Trade War

Blog, Global Trade, ONESOURCE July 6, 2018

Earlier this year President Trump imposed $8.5 Billion safeguard tariffs on solar panels and $8.1 Billion on washing machines. Soon after, the Department of Commerce released a report determining that the import of steel and aluminum products were posing a threat to U.S. National Security. The result, on March 23rd, Trump announced 25% tariffs on Steel, and 10% on Aluminum with exceptions for a select few countries.

The next set of tariff increases were announced on April 3rd , when the Office of the United States Trade Representative released a proposed Tariff List on Chinese Products . According to U.S. President Trump, these tariffs were in response to what he called China’s unfair trade practices against the U.S. The initial tariff list targeted industries such as aerospace, robotics, information and communication technology, and machinery.

On June 15th, the Office of the United States Trade Representative released an additional tariff list on U.S. imports from China. This updated list consisted of more than a thousand products and covered over $40 billion of imported items from China.

The tariffs will be imposed on nearly 70% of China’s imports to the U.S., and are expected to take effect on July 6th. The remaining 30% will be subject to a public review and comment period.

Because of these tariff increases, we are seeing what has started a tit-for-tat battle among some of the U.S.’ largest trading partners.

 

Overview

In 2017, 4 out of the top 10 U.S. trading partners were from Asia. The following will provide you with a brief recap of some of the equivalent retaliation moves we’ve seen from some of the U.S.’ top Asian trading partners.

 

China

China was the number one trading partner for the U.S. in 2017, breaking a record previously held by Canada when China topped at $600 Billion in trade.

Shortly after Trump announced the revised Section 301 tariff announcement in June, China retaliated with imposing tariffs of their own on U.S. exports to China. China’s own list targeted over $40 billion, of which American farmers and ranchers would be impacted heavily, with nearly $17 billion in agricultural and food products. Additional products on China’s proposed tariff list include exports of oil, medical equipment, plastics and vehicles.

As we approach the effective July date for the U.S. tariffs on China, we may continue to see China’s reaction of applying additional tariffs on U.S. products.

 

Japan

In retaliation to President Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, Japan too is considering imposing their own tariffs on U.S. imports worth over $400 million. This tariff proposal however has yet to be lodged with the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Japan hopes to use these proposed tariffs as a bargaining tactic to persuade the U.S. to add Japan to a list of countries exempted.

Japan has been cautious not to follow in Canada, China, and the European Union’s tit-for-tat tactics. However, with increased pressure from Japanese Automakers, Japan submitted a position paper on June 29th to the U.S. Department of Commerce stating their concerns on how tariffs on auto imports could significantly impact and jeopardize hundreds of thousands of American jobs created by Japan’s auto related companies.

 

India

In 2017, India was the seventh largest trading partner for the United States with diamonds, gold, and pharmaceuticals being the largest trading commodities.

Duty hikes by the U.S. on certain steel and aluminum products have had tariff implications of $241 million for India. In response to Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, India hiked customs duties on several goods, including Bengal gram, lentils and artemin, imported from the U.S. The proposed tariffs by India would have the equivalent tariff implication of $241 million for the U.S.  India submitted a revised list of 30 items to the WTO on which it proposed to raise customs duties by up to 50%.

Other products on which India will increase duties of U.S. commodities will include certain nuts, iron and steel products, apples, pears, and flat rolled products of stainless steel. These tariffs are expected to take effect on August 4th.

Unlike the European Union, India has spared motorcycle imports, which have had a major impact on U.S. Motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson who has started shifting manufacturing to Asia.

 

Looking Ahead

As some of President Trump’s trade tariff policies become effective, we can expect to see further retaliation policies from some of their largest trading partners.

China is expected to place a new 25% tax on soybeans this month. Mexico plans to add duties to pork imports and the E.U. has targeted over $3 billion in American goods exported-including Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission is expected to meet President Trump in Washington, D.C. later this month to further discuss trade policies and relationships.

 

 References:

 

Peterson Institute for International Economics

“Trump, China, and Tariffs: From Soybeans to Semiconductors”

Link: https://piie.com/blogs/trade-investment-policy-watch/trump-china-and-tariffs-soybeans-semiconductors

 

Peterson Institute for International Economics

“Is Trump In A Trade War? An Up-To-Date Guide”

Link: https://piie.com/blogs/trade-investment-policy-watch/trump-trade-war-china-date-guide

 

Peterson Institute for International Economics

“China’s retaliation to Trump’s tariffs”

By: Chad P. Bown, Euijin Jung and Zhiyao Lu

Link: https://piie.com/blogs/trade-investment-policy-watch/chinas-retaliation-trumps-tariffs

 

Forbes

“Top 10 U.S. Trade Partners in 2017 Can Be Broken Into 3 Tiers”

By Ken Roberts

Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kenroberts/2018/02/28/top-10-u-s-trade-partners-in-2017-can-be-broken-into-three-tiers/#77277b62627e

 

Los Angeles Times

“Japan to US: Auto Tariff Would Damage US, World Economy”

By: Mari Yamaguchi

Link: http://www.latimes.com/sns-bc-as–japan-us-autos-20180629-story.html