Commerce ministry calls on US to stop tariff plans


Commerce ministry calls on US to stop tariff plans
A US container ship is docked at a port in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, on April 1, 2019. 

China's Ministry of Commerce urged the United States on Thursday to correct its use of tariffs and vowed to take necessary countermeasures if Washington's new tariff plan targeting $300 billion worth of Chinese imports takes effect.

Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said the US government's bullying behavior and maximum pressure regime on China violate multilateral trade rules.

He warned that China will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights of Chinese enterprises.

The office of the United States Trade Representative recently proposed to take further action by imposing up to 25 percent tariffs on about $300 billion worth of Chinese imports. The USTR is seeking comments and will hold a public hearing on the matter on June 17.

According to the USTR, the tariffs would cover 3,805 categories of Chinese products. The proposed product list covers essentially all products currently not covered by US tariffs. However, the list excludes items such as pharmaceuticals, selected medical goods, rare earth materials and critical minerals.

China and the US have been embroiled in tit-for-tat tariff exchanges since July. The 11th round of high-level talks was held in Washington last week.

That round of consultations was "candid and constructive", Gao said. However, the US side unilaterally escalated the trade dispute, which led to the negotiation process suffering a major setback, he said.

Gao said the impact of US tariffs imposed on Chinese products starting last year was "completely controllable".

The central authorities introduced multiple measures last year to ensure stable economic and trade development. The ministry will strive to better implement those measures in the future and solve the difficulties faced by enterprises, Gao said.

Foreign media recently reported that US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he will likely travel to Beijing soon to continue negotiations with his Chinese counterparts. Gao said the ministry has no information on this plan.

Also on Thursday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a news conference that consultations must be conducted in a spirit of sincerity and equality.

US investment in China increased 24.3 percent year-on-year in the first four months of this year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Overall, foreign direct investment in China increased 6.4 percent year-on-year to 305.24 billion yuan ($44.38 billion) during the same period.

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