China raises tariffs on US pork, fruit in trade dispute


BEIJING (AP) — China raised import duties on a $3 billion list of U.S. pork, apples and other products Monday in an escalating dispute with Washington over trade and industrial policy.

The government of President Xi Jinping said it was responding to a U.S. tariff hike on steel and aluminum. But that is just one facet of sprawling tensions with Washington, Europe and Japan over a state-led economic model they complain hampers market access, protects Chinese companies and subsidizes exports in violation of Beijing’s free-trade commitments.

Already, companies are looking ahead to a bigger fight over U.S. President Donald Trump’s approval of higher duties on up to $50 billion of Chinese goods in response to complaints that Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.

Forecasters say the impact of Monday’s move should be limited, but investors worry the global recovery might be set back if other governments respond by raising import barriers.

On Monday, the main stock market indexes in Tokyo and Shanghai ended the day down.

The tariffs “signal a most unwelcome development, which is that countries are becoming protectionist,” said economist Taimur Baig of DBS Group. But in commercial terms, they are “not very substantial” compared with China’s $150 billion in annual imports of U.S. goods, he said.

Monday’s tariff increase will hit American farm states, many of which voted for Trump in 2016.

Beijing is imposing a 25 percent tariff on U.S. pork and aluminum scrap and 15 percent on sparkling wine, steel pipe used by oil and gas companies, and an array of fruits and nuts including apples, walnuts and grapes.

American farm exports to China in 2017 totaled nearly $20 billion, including $1.1 billion of pork products.

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