Asia's biggest exporters bristle over USA tariffs, fanning trade war fears

10 March, 2018, 01:50 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Asia's biggest exporters bristle over USA tariffs, fanning trade war fears

"History has shown that fighting a trade war has never been a correct way to solve a problem", Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Thursday, "Especially given today's globalization, choosing a trade war is a mistaken prescription".

China's latest trade data released on Thursday showed its February exports up 44.5 per cent from a year earlier, beating market expectations, while imports grew 6.3 per cent.

China had a record $375.2 billion goods surplus with the United States past year. "The outcome will only be harmful", Wang said.

"The China Iron & Steel Association (CISA) appeals for the Chinese government to take resolute measures against imports of some USA products including stainless steel, galvanized sheet, seamless pipe, coal, agriculture products and electronic products", the industry body said in a statement on its website.

"Although the "China Threat Theory" has now been reprinted, it's even less persuasive because facts speak louder than words", Wang said, citing China's economic growth and contributions to world peace at the United Nations.

India's steel ministry said in a note to the trade ministry last month that USA import tariffs were expected to lead to a loss of US$130 million in exports which were expected to total 333,656 tonnes for the year ending on March 31.

In his remarks, Wang issued one of China's most forceful responses yet to the looming trade actions. He mistakenly referred to a deficit where China runs a surplus.

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South Korea, a key Washington Asian ally, is the third largest steel exporter to the United States, after Canada and Brazil.

Trade tensions between the world's two largest economies have risen since President Trump took office in 2017, and although China accounts for only a small fraction of United States steel imports, its massive industry expansion has helped create a global glut of steel that has driven down prices. Europe has threatened to retaliate with sanctions on US exports of blue jeans, bourbon and Harley-Davidson motorcycles, raising the risk of a potentially destructive trade war.

The trade gap has continued to rise since Trump entered the White House partly because the US economy is strong and American consumers have an appetite for imported products and the confidence to buy them. We must act soon!

While China's role could lose more than USA in a possible trade war because it is one who records surplus, Capital Economics consultancy recalls that United States has very few destinations to go to if it wants to stop buying from China, because Asian giant is by far world's largest supplier of several of products that United States acquires.

According to Reuters, diplomatic and USA business sources say the United States has all but frozen a formal mechanism for talks on commercial disputes with China because it is not satisfied it has met its promises to ease market restrictions.

But the tensions with the United States are clouding the outlook for exports, while a cooling property market may curb domestic demand for imported raw materials such as iron ore.

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