Running Out of Tariff Options, China Takes Aim at American Companies

U.S. President Donald Trump holds an Oval Office meeting on preparations for hurricane Florence at the White House in Washington

U.S. President Donald Trump holds an Oval Office meeting on preparations for hurricane Florence at the White House in Washington

So far, the United States and China have hit $50 billion worth of each others' goods with tariffs in a dispute over USA demands that China make sweeping economic policy changes, including ending joint venture and technology transfer policies, rolling back industrial subsidy programs and better protecting American intellectual property.

But Larry Kudlow, head of the White House Economic Council, said Wednesday on the Fox Business Network that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had invited senior Chinese officials to rekindle the talks.

China's Commerce Minister confirmed it received the invitation but after this tweet from Trump, you have to wonder how much there is to negotiate.

The world's largest economies have been in the midst of a trade war for months, after the U.S. president imposed 25 tariffs s on a number of Chinese products.

This latest tweet underscores that concern.

Washington has offered to restart negotiations with Beijing as the trade war escalates, a move analysts say reflects pressure on the White House ahead of critical midterm elections and a weaker Chinese negotiating position as its economy slows. "And so, Secretary Mnuchin, who is the team leader with China, has apparently issued an invitation".

The negative impact of the tariffs on USA companies has been "clear and far reaching", according to the joint survey by AmCham China and AmCham Shanghai published on Thursday.

In addition to retaliatory tariffs, companies report China is slowing down customs clearances and stepping up inspections and other bureaucratic processes, the chambers said.

On Thursday, the USA business lobbies AmCham China and AmCham Shanghai published a joint survey showing that the negative impact on US companies in China of tit-for-tat tariffs Washington and Beijing have imposed on one another was "clear and far reaching".

Some 63.6 percent of more than 430 companies that responded to the American chambers' survey said profits and customer demand have fallen due to the US tariffs and 62.5 percent said the same about retaliatory Chinese tariffs.

AmCham China and AmCham Shanghai urged the Trump administration to re-think its approach.

The majority of American companies in China say they are hurting from the escalating trade spat, reporting increased costs, lower profits and stepped-up scrutiny, according to an American Chamber of Commerce in China survey released Thursday.

A day earlier, more than 60 US industry groups launched a coalition - Americans for Free Trade - to take the fight against the tariffs public.

Asked if the Trump administration would like to have additional trade talks with China, Kudlow said: "If they come to the table in a serious way to generate some positive results, yes of course".

But Kudlow was non-committal over the chances of a breakthrough, adding: "I guarantee nothing".

On Wednesday, organizations representing companies in industries including retailing, toy manufacturing, farming and technology plan to announce they are cooperating on a lobbying campaign called Tariffs Hurt the Heartland to oppose tariffs on imports, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

In recent meetings with cabinet-level Chinese officials, USCBC representatives were told that licensing won't resume "until the trajectory of the U.S".

So far, the United States and China have hit $50 billion worth of each other's goods with tariffs in a dispute over US demands that China make sweeping economic policy changes, including ending joint venture and technology transfer policies, rolling back industrial subsidy programs and better protecting American intellectual property.

He also made it clear he was ready to impose tariffs worth $200 billion on goods "very soon" if President Xin Jinping's government refused to back down.