China raises tariffs on US pork

China raises tariffs on US pork

China raised import duties on a $3 billion list of U.S. pork, fruit and other products Monday in an escalating tariff dispute with President Donald Trump that companies worry might depress global commerce. The Finance Ministry said it was responding to a U.S. tariff hike on steel and aluminum that took effect March 23. But a bigger clash looms over Trump's approval of possible higher duties on nearly $50 billion of Chinese goods in a separate argument over technology policy.

The tariff spat is one aspect of wide-ranging tensions between Washington and Beijing over China's multibillion-dollar trade surplus with the United States and its policies on technology, industry development and access to its state-dominated economy.

Beijing faces complaints by Washington, the European Union and other trading partners that it hampers market access despite its free-trading pledges and is flooding global markets with improperly low-priced steel and aluminum. But the EU, Japan and other governments criticized Trump's unilateral move as disruptive.

The United States buys little Chinese steel and aluminum following earlier tariff hikes to offset what Washington says is improper subsidies. Still, economists expected Beijing to respond to avoid looking weak in a high-profile dispute. Effective from this Monday, Beijing raised tariffs on pork, aluminum scrap and some other products by 25 percent, the Finance Ministry said. A 15 percent tariff was imposed on apples, almonds and some other goods.

The tariff hike has "has seriously damaged our interests," said a Finance Ministry statement. "Our country advocates and supports the multilateral trading system," said the statement. China's tariff increase "is a proper measure adopted by our country using World Trade Organization rules to protect our interests." China's government said earlier its imports of those goods last year totaled $3 billion. 

The American pork industry sent $1.1 billion in products, making China the No. 3 market for U.S. pork.