Economy

Trump's China vehicle tariffs claim sows confusion

Trump's China vehicle tariffs claim sows confusion

As reported by Reuters, fresh concerns are on the rise surrounding the temporary US-China truce that was struck over the weekend. China has also agreed to buy more American farm goods, industrial goods, and energy, and to target fentanyl, a drug that has caused a large number of overdoses in America. Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen told reporters that China and the United States would step up talks to remove the existing 25 percent tariffs (on some other products), but gave no timeframe.

There are several significant take-aways from this development, including the argument that Trump's hard line, even at times belligerent stance with Beijing, has caused them to blink first, particularly since economic growth in China has already started to feel the brunt of USA tariffs, while US economic growth, though not as robust as a few months ago, is still strong.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in a series of tweets Tuesday that talks to secure a trade deal with China "have already started" and if a "fair deal" is reached, "I will happily sign it".

Mr Trump has said China is supposed to start buying agricultural products immediately and cut its 40 per cent tariffs on U.S. auto imports. He acknowledged that Chinese leaders have stopped short of following through on deals in the past, but he said he believed the involvement of Xi in the discussions Saturday would lead to a different outcome.

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Trump said he and Xi "are the only two people that can bring about massive and very positive change, on trade and far beyond, between our two great Nations".

On Tuesday, President Trump has declared himself a "Tariff Man" in tweeting about the state of progress with China, doubling down the threat to raise tariffs on Chinese goods if a deal isn't solidified. "It will always be the best way to max out our economic power", he said on Tuesday. "But if not remember, I am a Tariff Man", Trump said.

Markets took a dive following Trump's tweetstorm. Washington, but not Beijing, has also said China will cut import tariffs on American cars.

However, there are differences in both countries' official accounts of what was agreed.

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China imposed a retaliatory 25 percent tariff on imports of cars from the US over the summer in response to Trump's own tariffs.

Mr Xi and his most senior officials, including the Commerce Minister and the country's two top diplomats, are in Portugal, and due back in China on Thursday. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has suggested to Axios that he would support legislation that limits the president's ability to impose tariffs.

China's tariffs on US soybeans mean they are $60 per tonne more expensive than those from top global supplier Brazil, which is due to begin harvesting a record crop in a few weeks time. At the end of the day, two realities remain: the U.S.is now an energy (oil and gas) producing super power alongside the ranks of Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia, while China, conversely, is the world's largest energy consumer, which gives it less leverage in ongoing trade and even geopolitical negotiations and developments.

Confusion has also arisen over when the agreed 90 day period for negotiations will kick in, with some saying it begins now, others claiming it's January.

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