China’s Economic Czar Warns U.S. Treasury Secretary on Tariffs

The Chinese move appeared to be a warning shot aimed at increasing domestic pressure on Mr. Trump by making clear which exporters, including those in farm areas that voted for the president in 2016, might be hurt.

American farmers, from hog producers in Iowa to apple growers in Washington State to winemakers in California, expressed deep disappointment over being put in the middle of a potential trade war with China.

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China’s Economic Czar Warns U.S. Treasury Secretary on Tariffs
China’s Economic Czar Warns U.S. Treasury Secretary on Tariffs

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China’s Commerce Ministry said Beijing was considering a tariff increase of 25 percent on pork and aluminum scrap, mirroring Mr. Trump’s 25 percent charge on steel. A second list of goods, including wine, apples, ethanol and stainless steel pipe, would be charged 15 percent, mirroring Mr. Trump’s tariff hike on aluminum.

Over all, United States farmers shipped nearly $20 billion of goods to China in 2017. The American pork industry sent $1.1 billion in products, making China the No. 3 market for American pork.

“No one wins in these tit-for-tat trade disputes, least of all the farmers and the consumers,” said Jim Heimerl, a pig farmer from Johnstown, Ohio, and the president of the National Pork Producers Council.

The United States has complained for years about China’s sharp-elbowed trading practices, accusing it of pirating trade secrets, manipulating its currency, forcing foreign companies to hand over technology and flooding world markets with cheap steel and aluminum that drive down prices and put American manufacturers out of business.

The spiraling trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies has spurred concerns among companies and investors that global commerce could be depressed.

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