China urges US to drop all additional tariffs, as Washington's trade war drags on after 5 years
Published: Mar 23, 2023 09:53 PM
Ministry of Commerce

Ministry of Commerce

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on Thursday called on the US to cancel all additional tariffs imposed on China as soon as possible and work with the Chinese side to maintain the stability of global industrial and supply chains for the benefit of the two peoples and the world.

Shu Jueting, a MOFCOM spokesperson, made the remarks after the US International Trade Commission on March 15 released a report saying that additional US tariffs imposed under Section 301 on certain imports from China had reduced the country's imports of these products and increased its production and prices.

The report found that on average from 2018 to 2021, US importers bore nearly the full cost of these tariffs because import prices increased at the same rate as the tariffs.

Tariffs under Section 301 imposed on thousands of products imported from China began in July 2018.

Shu noted that the report confirmed the view widely held by trade experts that the tariffs have caused harm to the US itself. 

"Tariffs under Section 301 are typical unilateralism and trade protectionism, which have seriously interfered with the normal conduct of bilateral trade between China and the US, undermining the stability of the global industrial and supply chains, and US importers and consumers have been deeply affected by them," Shu said. 

He Weiwen, a senior fellow at the Center for China and Globalization, told the Global Times on Thursday that US tariffs on Chinese merchandise did harm to both sides, but companies in the US sustained more damage. 

"In the past four years, the tariffs made ASEAN China's largest foreign trade partner instead of the US," said He, noting that the US had also caused damage to global trade and the world economy. 

In the first two months of 2023, China's trade with ASEAN increased 9.6 percent year-on-year, while trade with the US was down 10.6 percent, data from Chinese customs showed.

Shu said that a WTO panel has ruled that the tariff measures violated WTO rules, so the US should listen to the voices of all sectors of its domestic community, respect the WTO panel's ruling, and cancel all tariff increases on China as soon as possible.

The US waged the trade war with the excuse of reducing its trade deficit with China. But the New York Times reported in February that the US' trade deficit with China grew 8.3 percent annually to $382.9 billion in 2022, the second-highest total on record.

In response to the expanding China-US trade gap, Shu said that China has never deliberately pursued a trade surplus with the US. Ultimately, the US' trade deficit with China is determined by multiple factors including the economic structure of the two countries, the international division of labor in industries and US export controls on China.

In recent years, the overall US trade deficit has been on a continuous trend of expansion, but the growth rate of its trade deficit with China is significantly lower than the overall deficit. 

Based on market demand, Chinese companies imported large volumes of agricultural products, vehicles, technology, energy and petrochemicals from the US, which is beneficial to both sides. China's exports to the US have benefited US consumers and helped reduce US inflation, said Shu.

"The essence of China-US economic and trade cooperation is mutual benefit and win-win results, and the US should ease export controls on China, remove trade restrictions on Chinese enterprises to create conditions for enterprises of both countries to expand trade cooperation, and reduce the trade deficit with China," Shu noted.

Responding to media reports that the US is demanding that TikTok's Chinese owner sell its stakes or face a possible US ban of the app, Shu said that the action will seriously undermine the confidence of investors from various countries, including China, to invest in the US.

"China will firmly oppose a forced sale or divestiture of TikTok. Exports of Chinese technology must be subject to administrative licensing procedures in accordance with Chinese laws, and the Chinese government is legally bound to make a decision," the spokesperson noted.

According to He, Washington's accusations against TikTok were an example of abusing and generalizing the concept of national security, which was subjective, and it could be used in any field.