US versus China trade war: A timeline
The United States and China - two of the world's largest economies - have locked their horns over a trade war at the moment. After a series of tit-for-tat measures, the two countries have announced in all tariffs on over $100 billion of combined goods.
The latest move on the trade war happened on Wednesday, April 4, when China proposed a fresh set of tariffs on dozens of American products, including soybeans, aircraft and cars.
Here is a timeline of the trade war which was brewing for some time, especially under the American leadership of Donald Trump who views this as a serious initiative to protect his country from 'unfair' businesses.
April 2017: Three months after taking oath as the president, Trump, who always had a strong opinion on China's trade competition with the US, started an investigation into steel imports into the US.
Trump always stressed bringing the USA's lost jobs back home and asked the department of commerce to probe whether importing steel from China and other countries would hurt America's interests.
August 2017: Trump started the second government investigation aimed at China. He asked US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to look into China's alleged theft of American intellectual property. The government later estimated that such theft by China made the US lose between $225 billion and $600 billion each year. China slammed the US initiatives, saying it would impact the two countries' relations. Trump had a few quieter months after these probes as his relationship with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping improved.
But as 2018 begun, Trump resumed the confrontation.
January 2018: The first American offensive happened early in the year with Washington putting a 30 per cent tariff on imports of solar panels - most of which originate from China - as well taxes on imported washing machines. The US said it was in tune with Trump's 'America First' policy which aims at protecting the local manufacturers from foreign competition. China lashed out at the US over the decision, saying it impacted the global trade.
February 2018: The commerce department swung into action by proposing a range of tariffs on steel (24 per cent) and aluminium (7.7 per cent). While America's steelmakers were happy, the countries business leaders said that this could lead to a backlash and kick off a trade war. China also issued retaliatory statements saying it would take "necessary measures".
March 9, 2018: The third month of the new year also saw the momentum is maintained by the US on the trade war with China. Trump came up with follow-up action and imposed 25 per cent tariffs on imported steel and 10 per cent tariffs on aluminium imports.
Only neighbours Canada and Mexico were exempted and Trump said any other country hoping to get such exemption should ensure first that their products did not cause harm to the USA's security. This step provoked China, the world's biggest exporter of steel, and it again warned of "firm action" if its business interests were hurt.
March 22, 2018: Trump signed retaliatory tariffs on Chinese products worth up to $60 billion, including components of aeronautics, energy and technology industries.
April 2, 2018: China made its first retaliation by imposing tariffs on US imports worth $3 billion. It targeted 128 American products by imposing 15 per cent duty on 120 products and 25 per cent on eight others. These products included fruits, nuts, wine, recycled aluminium, pork, etc.
April 3, 2018: Trump was waiting for China to play his game and he did not wait to come up with his second list of tariffs. Aiming to penalise China for 'stealing' American intellectual property, the US Trade Representative proposed 25 per cent tax on 1,300 Chinese goods worth $50 billion and they included aerospace, medical and machinery industries.
April 4, 2018: Beijing followed suit by targeting American products worth $50 billion. This retaliation by China was a mirror image of that of the US a day earlier as Beijing imposed 25 per cent tariffs on US goods including aircraft, automobiles, soybeans and chemicals.