Crossfire of tariffs as Trump rattles world trade order


US President Donald Trump rattled the world trade order this year by seeking to renegotiate the terms of some of the US trading relationships, in particular with China. 

He has imposed tariffs on some imports, in turn sparking retaliatory action by other countries, raising fears of a global trade war.

The following tracks the tit-for-tat trade actions and threats this year:

January 22 – US President Donald Trump slaps steep tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines. They took effect February 7. 

February 1South Korea’s trade minister says the country’s trade representatives have made a strong complaint to the United States about US measures on imported washing machines and solar panels. 

February 4 – China launches an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into imports of sorghum from the US, less than a fortnight after US President Donald Trump slapped steep tariffs on imports of solar panels and washing machines.

February 27China removes anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on US white-feathered broiler chickens, ending a year-long dispute between the world’s largest economies after a World Trade Organisation ruling in January. 

March 8 – US President Donald Trump presses ahead with import tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium, exempting Canada and Mexico. 

March 12South Korea’s finance ministry says South Korea will “deploy all possible means” to respond to US tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. 

March 23 – US implements tariffs on steel imports (25%) and aluminium (10%) but grants exemptions for Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

March 26The European Union launches an investigation into whether US import tariffs warranted measures to prevent mainly Asian producers flooding Europe with steel. The EU could implement provisional measures – tariffs or quotas – in July.

April 2 – China increases tariffs by up to 25% on 128 US products, from frozen pork and wine to certain fruits and nuts, in response to US duties on aluminium and steel imports. 

April 3 Washington proposes 25% tariffs on some 1,300 industrial technology, transport and medical products from China worth $50 billion to try to force changes in Beijing’s intellectual property practices. 

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April 4 – Beijing retaliates, threatening 25% additional tariffs on 106 US goods worth $50 billion, including signature items like soybeans, cotton, planes, cars, beef, tobacco and whiskey. 

April 6South Korea says it has notified the World Trade Organisation that it is seeking to suspend tariff concessions on imported US goods worth $480m in response to US measures against South Korean imports. 

April 18 – China slaps hefty anti-dumping deposits on imports of US sorghum as Beijing continued its probe into dumping of the grain. 

April 30US President Donald Trump postpones the imposition of steel and aluminium tariffs on Canada, the European Union and Mexico until June 1, and says he has reached agreements for permanent exemptions for Argentina, Australia and Brazil. 

May 14 – South Korea says it has taken a dispute to the WTO against the US for imposing tariffs on washing machines and solar panels as the measures were deemed to be in violation of the WTO agreement. 

May 17EU leaders propose discussions with Washington to remove tariffs on industrial products, including cars, to prevent a potential trade war. 

May 19 – Beijing dropped its anti-dumping probe into imports of US sorghum amid concerns about rising costs and financial damage at home. 

May 22The World Trade Organisation says Japan, Russia and Turkey have warned the US about potential retaliation for its tariffs on steel and aluminium. Russia said the US tariffs would add duties of $538m to its annual steel and aluminium exports. Japan puts the sum at $440m and Turkey puts it at $267m. 

May 23 – A World Trade Organisation filing shows India has launched a complaint against the US to challenge US tariffs on steel and aluminium. 

May 31Canada says it will impose retaliatory tariffs on C$16.6 billion of US exports from July 1 until the US lifts its own measures. They include 25% tariffs on iron and steel products, and 10% tariffs on a variety of items including food, orange juice, whiskey, aluminium products and toiletries. 

June 1 – The US introduces import quotas for steel from Argentina, Brazil and South Korea to replace tariffs. It also introduces an import quota for aluminium from Argentina. It permanently exempts Australia from the steel and aluminium tariffs.

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June 5 Mexico imposes tariffs with immediate effect on American products ranging from steel to pork and bourbon in response to import duties on metals adopted by the US. 

June 8 – China imposed temporary anti-dumping measures on imports of broiler chicken from Brazil after finding that the domestic industry had been substantially damaged. (Full Story)

June 15 The US Trade Representative’s (USTR) office revises its China tariff list, targeting $34 billion of goods for tariffs to take effect on July 6, deleting flat panel television sets, air conditioning parts and some aluminium alloys. The USTR also unveils a second set of $16 billion of products for tariffs to take effect later in the year after allowing for a period of public comment. This list adds semiconductors, vaping devices and some construction materials. 

June 16 – China says it will impose additional tariffs on 659 US goods imported into China that are worth $50 billion, in response to a US announcement it will levy tariffs on Chinese imports. Tariffs on $34 billion would come into force on July 6 and tariffs on the remaining $16 billion of goods would be announced later. 

June 18Trump threatens to impose a 10% tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods. Trump says he has asked US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to draw up a list of potential new tariffs and is prepared to target another $200 billion in Chinese goods if Beijing retaliates a second time. 

June 20US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says his department had made decisions on the first 98 requests for steel product exclusions by companies, approving 41 and rejecting 56. The exclusions cover seven different companies importing steel products from Japan, Sweden, Belgium, Germany and China. Commerce is also investigating recent steel price hikes in the US to determine whether some market participants are “illegitimately profiteering” from new tariffs. 

June 21 – India, the world’s biggest buyer of US almonds, raised import duties on the nuts and other items, a government order said.

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June 22 The European Union imposes duties of 25% on €2.8 billion of US imports in response to US tariffs imposed on EU steel and aluminium. The US products targeted include bourbon, jeans and motorbikes. 

June 22 – Trump threatens Europe with a 20% tariff on all US imports of cars assembled in the European Union. The US currently imposes a 2.5% tariff on imported passenger cars from the European Union and a 25% tariff on imported pickup trucks. The EU currently imposes a 10% tariff on imported US cars. 

June 26 China said it will remove import tariffs on animal feed ingredients including soybeans, soymeal and rapeseed on supplies from five Asian countries, a sign Beijing is seeking alternative supplies of the commodities as its trade dispute with the US escalates. Trump says the US government is completing a study about increasing import tariffs on cars from the European Union. 

June 27 – Trump says he will use a strengthened version of a US national security review committee to curb China’s acquisitions of US firms with sensitive technologies, taking a softer line on investment restrictions. He ignores China hawks in his cabinet, who have argued for China-specific investment restrictions drawn up under an emergency economic sanctions law. Under legislation expected soon to pass the US Congress, the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) will expand the transactions it can review on national security grounds to minority stakes, joint ventures and property purchases near US military facilities.

July 1Canada strikes back at the Trump administration over US steel and aluminium tariffs, imposing punitive measures on C$16.6 billion ($12.63 billion) of American goods. They include 25% tariffs on iron and steel products and 10% tariffs on a variety of items including foodstuffs such as coffee, ketchup and whiskies and aluminium products, according to a list by the Department of Finance. 

July 6 – The US imposes tariffs on $34 billion of goods it imports from China. China retaliates with additional tariffs on $34 billion of US goods imported into China. 




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