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Trump's many trade wars: a summary

Trump's many trade wars: a summary

The United States has launched what China calls the "largest trade war in economic history" and in its latest move targeted another $200 billion in Chinese export goods.

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12.07.2018 08:37 AM

The United States has launched what China calls the "largest trade war in economic history" and in its latest move targeted another $200 billion in Chinese export goods.

The US-China spat is one of several trade fights picked by the protectionist President Donald Trump as his "America First" agenda disrupts trade relations among traditional allies.

The growing share of international trade under threat has raised the prospect the escalating trade war could harm the global economy, shrinking investments and undermining supply chains. World stocks again tumbled on Wednesday.

Here is a summary of Trump's multi-front trade conflicts:

China

After weeks of apparently fruitless negotiations, the United States on Friday imposed 25 percent tariffs on approximately $34 billion of Chinese products, sparking an immediate response from Beijing, which said it would hit back dollar for dollar.

A second tranche of $16 billion in products is under review and could soon be added to the US measures.

That volley now appears to have marked only the opening shots in a churning trade war. Trump has warned he could ratchet his measures up to $450 billion in Chinese imports -- the vast majority of what China sells to the United States in a year -- if Beijing continues to retaliate.

The US tariffs which took effect this month target a wide range of Chinese goods -- including aircraft parts and computer hard drives -- that Washington says have benefited from unfair trade practices.

China's has hit back dollar-for-dollar, largely targeting agricultural products designed to hurt Trump supporters.

The US Trade Representative on July 10 identified a sprawling list of more than 6,000 product categories that could be hit with 10 percent import duties as soon as September. The goods to be hit are as varied as fish, grains, luggage, plywood, carpets, stone, ceramics and glass as well as products made from copper and nickel.

China again vowed to strike back with more countermeasures. Beijing also has filed a complaint in the World Trade Organization against the US actions.

European Union

On June 1, Trump made good on several months of threats and imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum from the EU, Canada and Mexico.

Trump has said the European Union is "possibly almost as bad as China" when it comes to trade, as a raft of retaliatory tariffs from Brussels came into effect on June 22.

From blue jeans to motorbikes and whiskey, the EU's hit-list of products targeted the most emblematic of American exports.

Europe also is worried Washington will follow up on a threat to impose punitive levies on imported cars, something the powerful German car industry particularly fears.

However, signs of a possible thaw emerged on July 5 when the US ambassador in Berlin told bosses at Germany's biggest car firms that Washington was calling on the EU to bring tariffs to zero on car imports -- in exchange for equal treatment.

Canada and Mexico

Canada and Mexico, members of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the US, have not been spared the Washington offensive on steel and aluminum and have imposed their own counter-tariffs on US goods. 

Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traded barbs over the steel tariffs at a farcical summit of the Group of Seven richest countries last month.

Meanwhile talks among the three NAFTA signatories, launched after Trump demanded an overhaul of the "terrible deal," have snagged notably owing to US demands to increase American content installed in duty-free autos.

However, Mexico's firebrand President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known as "AMLO," has vowed to work with the US to revise the trade pact. 

Japan

Japan is another target of Trump's steel tariffs, which Tokyo calls "extremely deplorable."

The country has informed the WTO it plans to impose retaliatory measures on US goods to the tune of 50 billion yen (395 million euros, $455 million), after failing to persuade Washington to exempt it from the tariffs.

South Korea

In March, Washington and Seoul announced an agreement on a revised version of their bilateral free trade accord, giving US carmakers greater access to the South Korean market. 

Trump argued the original deal from 2012 was lopsided in Seoul's favor, but has also clouded the issue by appearing to link trade concessions to progress in his separate track of talks with nuclear-armed North Korea.

Russia

Russia, also hit by the US steel tariffs, announced Friday it was imposing its own 25 percent tariffs on some US goods.

Trade relations were already strained by US sanctions targeting oligarchs and businesses accused of supporting President Vladimir Putin's alleged efforts to undermine Western democracies. 

Iran

Trump announced in May he was abandoning the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran -- which will mean new sanctions on Tehran and punitive measures for those who trade with it.

Several companies -- including Total and Peugeot of France, and Russia's Lukoil -- have said they are preparing to exit Iran ahead of US deadlines, the last of which is November 4.
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