The Trump administration on Tuesday raised the stakes in a growing trade showdown with China, announcing 25 percent tariffs on some 1,300 industrial technology, transport and medical products to try to force changes in Beijing’s intellectual property practices.
The U.S. Trade Representative’s office unveiled a list of mainly non-consumer products representing about $50 billion of annual imports that would nonetheless hit supply chains for many U.S. manufacturers. The list ranges from chemicals to light-emitting diodes, motorcycles and dental devices.
Publication of the tariff list starts a public comment and consultation period expected to last around two months, after which USTR said it would issue a “final determination” on the product list. It has scheduled a May 15 public hearing on the tariffs.
USTR said the tariffs were proposed “in response to China’s policies that coerce American companies into transferring their technology and intellectual property to domestic Chinese enterprises.”
The agency added that such policies “bolster China’s stated intention of seizing economic leadership in advanced technology as set forth in its industrial plans, such as ‘Made in China 2025.'”
China has denied that its laws require technology transfers and has threatened to retaliate against any U.S. tariffs with trade sanctions of its own, with potential targets such as U.S. soybeans, aircraft or heavy equipment. The dispute has raised fears about a possible trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
The U.S. list heavily targets advanced technology products that benefit from Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” program, which aims to replace advanced technology imports with domestic products and build a dominant position in future industries.
The state-led 2025 program targets 10 strategic industries: advanced information technology, robotics, aircraft, new energy vehicles, pharmaceuticals, electric power equipment, advanced materials, agricultural machinery, shipbuilding and marine engineering and advanced rail equipment.