China & US Trade War – The Tariff Timeline (2018)


January 2018

President Trump approved a 30% tariff on solar panels and a 20% tariff on washing machines.

Mid-February

The United States Commerce Department had announced several ideas to fight China’s undesired trade practices, including a 24% tariff on all steel imports and 7.7 percent on aluminum.

March

The European Union said that it would respond to Trump’s tariffs on metals by placing tariffs on American goods. The United States followed by formally announcing its approval of the 25% tariff on steel and 10 percent on aluminum. Mexico and Canada were granted initial exemptions.

March 22nd

Mr. Trump announced a plan to impose tariffs on $50 billion worth of goods from China. China responded by saying that it would impose tariffs on $3 billion worth of American goods. This measure was taken in reaction to the Trump administration’s decision earlier to impose steel and aluminum tariffs. At this time the United States announced that it had decided to grant temporary exemptions to the European Union, South Korea and others on its steel and aluminum tariffs.

April

China imposed tariffs of up to 25% on 128 American products. And the United States responded by announcing a list of some 1,300 products with tariffs totaling to $50 billion, including flat-screen televisions, medical devices, aircraft parts and batteries. China then returned with a threat of tariffs on soybeans, cars and chemicals; and added another $50 billion in tariffs on 106 more American products aiming at farming and aerospace. Trump followed by saying that he was considering an idea to impose even more tariffs on $100 billion worth of goods from China.

NOTE: The U.S. bought more than $500 billion in goods from China last year and now is planning or considering penalties on some $150 billion of those imports. The U.S. sold about $130 billion in goods to China in 2017.

Still, China and the U.S. have yet to hold formal talks, but movements are still being made. The U.S. banned American companies from selling parts to ZTE for seven years, while China announced anti-dumping tariffs on synthetic rubber imports from the U.S.

In mid-April, China said it would cut tariffs on vehicle imports; and also proposed a timetable for removing restrictions on foreign ownership of automakers. And Trump created confusion by telling congress members he was open to a Pacific Rim trade deal, and then hours later, abruptly changing his mind. However, Trump did agree to open discussions related to the tariffs on steel, aluminum and an array of other goods from China, at the World Trade Organization. The U.S position is that the tariffs are penalties for China forcing U.S. companies to share technology to access the Chinese market.

What is to come?

It is uncertain whether China and the United States will follow through with the tariff threats that were announced in early April. Prior to these threats, officials in the administration were indicating that any possible threats would just be places to begin negotiations, and that they are not steps intended to lead to a trade war, which neither side desires.

Very few restrictions have yet to come into effect, and companies do have time to comment in an attempt to sway Trump before the U.S. makes its final decision on tariffs mid-August. Much still remains up in the air as to the outcome; both parties seem to agree that a trade war could put a stop to the global economic recovery. Nothing concrete has been said since the first week of April so negotiations might have already started behind the scenes. To be continued…