US/China Trade War Brewing?
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
On Monday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced the Trump administration’s imposition of 30% tariffs on solar panels and modules, declining over a four-year period to 15%.
Stiff tariffs on washing machines and parts were also imposed – 20% (for the first 1.2 million units, 50% above this total) and 50% respectively for year one, reduced to 16% (40% above 1.2 million units) and 40% respectively by year three.
Center for Biological Diversity senior attorney Howard Crystal slammed his move, saying it “reckless(ly) threaten(s) tens of thousands of American jobs and hurts our climate,” adding:
“If Trump really wants to put America first, he should reduce our reliance on polluting energy sources that fuel climate change. Instead, this profoundly political move will make solar power more expensive for everyday Americans while propping up two failing, foreign-owned companies” – Suniva and SolarWorld.
“The climate crisis is here, ripping apart communities and threatening wildlife with devastating storms, wildfires and floods.”
“With Americans in Puerto Rico and Houston still struggling to recover from climate disasters, Trump should be supporting renewable energy rather than making it more costly.”
US solar companies and the Solar Energy Industries Association also slammed what they called a deplorable action that will “ultimately cost tens of thousands of hard-working, blue-collar Americans their jobs.”
Union of Concerned Scientists energy analyst John Rogers called his move a solar sector “job killer” at a time of increasing need to reduce carbon emissions – along with harming renewable energy development.
Trade lawyer Lewis Leibowitz believes the issue will go to the WTO for resolution, a time-consuming process.
Trump’s action may signal more of the same to come, China his main target.
Its Foreign Ministry expressed “strong discontent,” blaming Trump for imposing “abus(ive) trade remedy measures (and) deteriorating (the) global trade situation” – instead of pursuing a WTO remedy.
Beijing will “resolutely defend its legitimate interests,” the ministry added with no elaboration.
Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China “mak(es) great contributions” to world trade. Yet unilateral US actions pose significant challenges to multilateral trade.
China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) made similar comments, expressing strong dissatisfaction with Trump imposition of tariffs on solar modules, parts and washing machines.
Late last year, the Trump administration suspended the Sino/US Comprehensive Economic Dialogue – established to discuss wide-ranging economic and global strategic issues between both countries, meeting alternately in Beijing and Washington.
Trump continues bashing what he calls unfair Chinese trade practices. Former US assistant trade representative Timothy Stafford believes high-level debate in Washington focuses on how to deal with China on trade issues.
It’s hard for both countries to communicate until issues are resolved, he said.
Reportedly in his January 30 State of the Union address, Trump will discuss findings of an investigation into alleged Chinese intellectual property theft, further straining relations.
Asia Society Policy Institute vice president Wendy Cutler expects further Trump administration actions detrimental to China.
“From what I heard so far, it is a pretty comprehensive review and investigation, and the administration may take significant actions such as investment restriction and (further) tariffs,” she said.
Bilateral relations are strained over US South China Sea provocations and trade.
Trump administration’s imposition of tariffs with likely more to come widens the divide between both countries.
Washington has a habit of making more enemies than friends.
It’s a declining power economically and politically. China and Russia are rising.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”