World Media

China reacts to Trump's steel tariffs

Donald Trump with Xi Jinping

Any trade war with the United States will only bring disaster to the world economy, Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan has said, as the European Union and Japan call for exemptions from metal tariffs, an ABC News report said on Sunday.

Beijing has indicated it will implement retaliatory measures, such as by imposing tariffs on agricultural products imported from the United States. Increased tariffs triggered an enormous controversy in the global community, the European Union and Japan demanded exceptions for themselves.

The tariffs are considered to be targeted at China due to the country's production of global surpluses of steel.

China has repeatedly vowed to defend its "legitimate rights and interests" if targeted by USA trade actions.

Zhong added that the United States trade deficit with China is overestimated by about 20 percent, citing research by a panel tasked with investigating the discrepancy between the two nations' accounts of their trade balance.

More than 140 countries have participated in or responded to the initiative since it was proposed by China in 2013, said the minister.

"Because no one is willing to start a trade war, and everyone knows trade wars hurt others without helping themselves", Zhong said.

Trump's announcement on tariffs underlined concerns about rising USA protectionism, which has sparked bouts of turmoil in global financial markets over the past year as investors feared a damaging trade spat will shatter a synchronised uptick in world growth. More than 60 countries have registered so far. "Big Deficit. If not, we Tax Cars etc. FAIR!" Of those imports, South Korea, Japan, China and India accounted for 6.6 million tonnes.

As China's exports surged in February its monthly surplus with the U.S. widened from a year earlier to $20.96 billion, according to data from the customs bureau. China accounts for only a small fraction of United States steel imports, but its massive industrial expansion has helped create a global glut of steel that has driven down prices.

Washington and Beijing continue conducting negotiations now.

Zhong blamed the trade imbalance in part on controls over USA high-tech exports to China, repeating a Chinese claim that Washington could narrow its trade deficit if it allowed Beijing to buy more "dual use" technology such as supercomputers and advanced materials with military applications.

"Today, I am defending America's national security by placing tariffs on foreign imports of steel and aluminum", Trump said in the White House.

Nonetheless, there is growing bipartisan consensus in Washington, and support within some segments of the United States business community, for the USA government to counter what are seen as Beijing's predatory industrial policies and market restrictions on foreign firms. He said China wants to contribute to the stable development of the world economy by settling differences through cooperation and building mutually beneficial relationships.