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Trade War

China imposes retaliatory tariffs on 128 US products

The move comes in response to US steel and aluminum import restrictions

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Chinese government said its retaliatory tariffs are a legitimate action aimed at defending China's national interests.   © AP

BEIJING -- China's State Council has imposed additional tariffs of up to 25% on 128 items imported from the U.S., including pork and wine. The measure, which took effect on Monday, comes in response to the U.S. restricting steel and aluminum imports, including those from China.

China imposed a 15% tariff on 120 products, including wine, nuts including pistachios and walnuts, fruits including oranges, grapes and watermelons, dried fruits including mangoes, and seamless steel pipe. In 2017, China imported $1 billion worth of these products.

The country also slapped a 25% tariff on pork and aluminum scrap. Last year, the country imported $2 billion worth of such products.

China announced the 128 items on March 23 and sought public comment until the end of the month.

In a statement, the Ministry of Commerce said "China's suspension of some of its obligations to the United States is its legitimate right as a member of the World Trade Organization." It added that the measure is a legitimate action designed to defend China's national interests.

The U.S. imposed additional tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports on March 23 under rules in Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act. China slapped additional tariffs on U.S. imports, apparently to counter the U.S. action.

China's imposition of tariffs, however, is not directly related to planned sanctions by the U.S. against China for its intellectual property theft under Section 301 of the Trade Expansion Act.

The U.S. is expected to publish this month a list of about 1,300 items subject to the trade sanctions. China is said to be considering additional countermeasures, and is expected to retaliate by publishing a list of U.S. products to be sanctioned.

Unofficial negotiations are already underway between the U.S. and China over trade. China is imposing the retaliatory tariffs in part to make clear its position that it will not concede, as well as to take the upper hand in bilateral negotiations.

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