U.S. Imposes New Tariffs On $200 Billion In Chinese Imports

Sep 18, 2018
Originally published on September 18, 2018 9:42 am
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

What does the latest round of U.S. tariffs on China mean for American consumers? That's where we start our discussion with NPR's Jim Zarroli, who is on the line from New York.

Jim, good morning.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: OK. So people may have heard the news - $200 billion of additional tariffs on Chinese products - that's what President Trump announced last night. What kinds of products are these?

ZARROLI: Well, the administration came out over the summer with a long list of imported Chinese products that would be targeted. It included a lot of different things - food, clothing, you know, household items, electronic goods. There was a long...

INSKEEP: Oh, so this might be stuff that I actually buy that says made in China. That's what they were threatening to do and what they've now said they will cover with tariffs.

ZARROLI: Right. The earlier round of tariffs really included a lot of sort of what we call intermediate goods - in other words, things that manufacturers in the United States might import for the products they make. So it wasn't the kind of thing that - they weren't the kinds of products that consumers would be affected by as directly. But these - this latest round of tariffs included a lot of the sorts of things that you and I might find in our homes - you know, a lot of the things that we buy from China.

INSKEEP: OK. So clothes or electronics either are going to go up a little bit in price or the sellers are going to have to eat these tariffs. We don't know exactly how that's going to work out. But why would the president take this step now?

ZARROLI: Well, he said this is essentially something that the United States is being forced into. In a statement, he said Chinese trade practices plainly constitute a grave threat to the long-term health and prosperity of the U.S. economy. Now, that's familiar. Trump has been saying things like that for years, really - that other countries are taking advantage of the United States on trade. And he's really been especially critical of China. This year, he placed tariffs on $50 billion in imports. China retaliated. So he's just really upping the ante here.

INSKEEP: OK. So when the president says that China's trade practices present a threat to the United States, he's not alone in that. Democrats have said the same thing about China. But then the question...

ZARROLI: Right.

INSKEEP: ...Is what you do and whether imposing tariffs pose a threat to the U.S. economy. Let's hear from the president's adviser Larry Kudlow, who is director of the National Economic Council, who addressed that question yesterday at the Economic Club of New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LARRY KUDLOW: I don't see any reason to think at the present time that the president's trade reforms are going to damage the economy.

INSKEEP: Nothing to worry about, he says. Does the business world agree?

ZARROLI: Well, I think a lot of people are maybe not quite as sanguine as Larry Kudlow about what's happening. You know, there's been a lot of criticism in general for months from business groups about the direction this dispute is taking - groups like the Chamber of Commerce, groups tied to the Koch brothers. Now, it has to be said that there are a lot of companies in the U.S. - and really, around the world - that, in general, agree with Trump's criticisms of China's trade practices. China does things that a lot of people think are abusive, unfair. But at the same time, companies - American companies, companies everywhere - are worried about this sort of tit-for-tat direction this is taking and, you know, what it's going to mean for the global economy.

INSKEEP: So the president also said, I'm imposing these tariffs, and if China retaliates, we're ready with even more tariffs. How has China responded to that?

ZARROLI: Well, China has responded about the way you might expect. They have said they won't be pressured on trade, that they're not going to come to the bargaining table because of this. There is a market regulator who is quoted as saying the tariffs won't work because China has enough fiscal and monetary tools to cope with their impact. And it says it's going to retaliate. It did so after the first round of tariffs. It says it's willing to do so again.

INSKEEP: Not backing down in the face of that threat to retaliate for any retaliation.

Jim, thanks very much.

ZARROLI: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: That's NPR business reporter Jim Zarroli in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.