07/06/2018, 09.55
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China and the United States begin “greatest trade war in history'

by Wang Zhicheng

Washington announces 25% added duties on 34 billion dollars of Chinese goods. Products targeted regard aerospace industry, telecommunications, robotics, industrial machines, automobiles, new materials. China "forced" to impose additional taxes of 25% on 545 US products of the same value, including soya, cars, seafood, other agricultural products. A GDP reduction of 0.5% is forecast in both countries. The forced transfer of intellectual and technological properties and the protectionism of the Chinese market shared by the US and Europe.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Today, shortly after midday (at 12.01), US sanctions on Chinese imports have entered into force, kicking off what the Beijing trade ministry has called "the greatest trade war in history".

After months of threats, the US Trade Representative has specified that from now on additional duties will be placed of 25% to 34 billion dollars of imported Chinese goods that concern products from the aerospace industry, telecommunications, robotics, industrial machines, automobiles, new materials.

China had already promised that "it would be forced to take necessary measures to defend the core interests of the nation and the people,".  In fact yesterday, the Ministry for Commerce declared that the US move would provoke retaliation by Beijing. Already in mid-June, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce had said it wanted to impose additional 25% taxes on 545 US products of the same value, including soya, cars, seafood and other agricultural products.

The origins of the "tariff war" lie in the US accusation that China favors the competitively of Chinese products, by lightening the price on international markets. It also accuse China of unfairly demanding that foreign companies that want to work in the country to share their know-how with the Chinese partners, resulting in a forced transfer of intellectual and technological properties. Beijing has never denied these allegations.

Today, the Chinese ministry of commerce described the US attitude as " typical bullying behavior, which will have a serious impact on the global industrial and value chain and pose obstacles to global economic recovery ", also targeting "innocent" international companies, including US companies. In fact, many products affected by tariffs are produced in China, but use materials and semi-finished products from various countries, including the US itself.

William Zarit, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, told the Global Times Friday in a note that "there are no winners in a trade war. Counter-productive import tariffs, such as these, hurt not only the economies of the US and China but those of every country in the world." "We urge the two governments to return to the negotiating table for productive discussions based on achieving results - focused on fairness and reciprocity- instead of escalating the current situation," Zarit said ".

Experts predict that the "tariff war" will result in a reduction of around 0.5% of GDP in both countries. Economists calculate that it will have repercussions for several Asian economies, linked to production chains in China. These include  Taiwan - which risks a 2% of its GDP - followed by Malaysia, South Korea and Singapore.

In recent days, Beijing has sought to involve the European Union to form a common block against US tariffs. But the Europeans, who are also hit by US tariffs on steel and automobiles, share concerns with the US about the forced transfer of intellectual property and accuse China of having an overly-protectionist market.

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