Trade War Watch: Truce Ends, Tariffs Up, Talks Resume, Trump Tweets

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
trade war watch truce ends tariffs up talks resume trump tweets

Following an announcement that trade discussions with China had effectively broken down, President Donald Trump increased tariffs on $200 billion in goods from the country on Friday. The White House also issued an ultimatum, saying Beijing had about a month to reach an agreement before the U.S. enacts another 25-percent duty on $325 billion previously unaffected Chinese imports.

White the trade war has been in full swing for most of Trump’s time in office, the White House had indicated that discussions with China were progressing at the start of May. That changed after the People’s Republic returned a modified trade agreement that removed much of the legal language that would have made it binding while reneging on other aspects U.S. negotiators already assumed were settled. President Trump cited the backtracking as the primary reason for imposing a new round of tariffs.

Fortunately, the U.S. International Trade Commission said the tariff hike would only affect $2.3 billion worth of automotive goods — ranking them 10th on the list overall.

Limited for our purposes to motor-vehicle parts, the Trade Commission’s complete register of tariffed items included things like wheels, bumpers, shocks, door assemblies, radiators, gaskets, and seats. While this will assuredly raise the price of such components, potentially resulting in higher MSRPs, the real threat could come from retaliatory tariffs that focus specifically on American-made cars. China has made it intentionally difficult for U.S. automakers to ship vehicles by boat in the past and there’s little reason to think it will abandon that strategy now.

While China often looks like the bad guy, that’s partially the product of having the home-field advantage. China has disputed the characterization that it has reneged on its trade commitments while trying to show the U.S. as a bit of a bully — a claim that is not helped by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s aggressive style. Regardless of what we think, it has created distrust on all sides.

“There’s definitely disappointment and frustration [in China]” Zhu Ning, deputy director of the National Institute of Financial Research at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said in a recent interview with Bloomberg. “We thought we were on a good path of making progress and having a deal.”

Officially, things have already turned a corner and the two countries are back to business. But the underlying animosity is palpable. “Talks with China continue in a very congenial manner — there is absolutely no need to rush,” the U.S. president said on Twitter Friday morning, before trade discussions resumed. “In the meantime we will continue to negotiate with China in the hopes that they do not again try to redo deal!”

From Bloomberg:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin described Friday’s discussions as constructive as he left the U.S. Trade Representative’s office. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the top negotiator who led the talks in Washington, told reporters at his hotel that the talks went “fairly well.”

Yet several people familiar with the discussions said little progress was made during a working dinner on Thursday and in Friday morning talks. Liu didn’t come prepared to offer much more in the way of concessions, one of the people said.

Liu and his delegation were expected to leave Washington on Friday afternoon, according to a person familiar with their planning.

However, U.S. officials seemed unsure whether Liu even had the authority to make formal commitments at this point. Internal debates regarding Chinese law were cited as one of the contributing factors for China’s alterations to the draft agreement. But it’s unclear whether or not those disputes have been resolved as of Friday.

[Image: Vacancylizm/Shutterstock]

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  • Voyager Voyager on May 14, 2019

    So, your import car will become more expensive, and you already paid more for European cars, a premium. Do you expect Detroit to perform better? Trump just makes it easier for the Big Three to be even more complacent. They will probably sell more, but for many Americans they just don't bring the type of car foreign automakers do offer. Actually the very same reason why most Europeans and Asians don't crave for American cars.

  • DeadWeight DeadWeight on May 14, 2019

    THE UNITED STATES & HER ALLIES MUST LAUNCH A 1ST STRIKE ON CHINA, COMPLETELY DESTROYING ITS MILITARY CAPABILITIES AND INFRASTRUCTURE. We, along with those allies, can help China to rebuild itself into a democracy that no longer has, as its main priority, the desire to soon confront the western powers, as well as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea, in an all-out military conflict, in order to become hegemonic and export its truly warped value system on the world. My comments above all stand, and I am being proven correct, yet again, in my assessment on a major and significant topic of current times. I’m currently getting ready for a work trip out to Las Vegas, but do hope that our military is prepping comprehensive, tactically sound, and complete plans for a devastating 1ST STRIKE on China’s military forces/sites, infrastructure and political leadership. The sooner, the better, as we lose ability to achieve complete and total success in this necessary endeavor with each passing day. PROC is at least as big a threat, and likely significantly larger, given all historically proper historical economic and military adjustments, to the west and our now-Asian allies, than Nazi Germany was in the 40s. THE TIME FOR ACTION HAS ARRIVED.

    • Voyager Voyager on May 15, 2019

      You are a MASSIVE idiot, aren't you? Had your head checked lately? No tumors?

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂