Tariff wars: A guide to the many disputes between U.S., trade partners

By Danielle Haynes
President Donald Trump listens Wednesday as European Commission leader Jean-Claude Juncker speaks about trade in the Rose Garden at the White House. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
1 of 3 | President Donald Trump listens Wednesday as European Commission leader Jean-Claude Juncker speaks about trade in the Rose Garden at the White House. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Citing a trade imbalance between the United States and other countries, President Donald Trump implemented a series of tariffs that has foreign leaders -- including Washington's allies -- warning of a trade war.

His tariffs this year are no surprise. Then-candidate Trump frequently made his feelings on trade agreements -- including the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- known throughout the 2016 presidential campaign.


Trump called NAFTA "one of the worst deals ever"during an October debate with Hillary Clinton, and within days of his election win said he planned to renegotiate or withdraw from the agreement. Within days of taking office, he signed an executive order scrapping the TPP.

And earlier this year, Trump began imposing new tariffs worldwide, some specifically aimed at China for its "discriminatory and burdensome trade practices" and use of U.S. intellectual property. But in Trump's pursuit to put "America first," China warned the United States will "suffer the greatest losses" in a provoked trade war.


A look at each of the United States' trade announcements this year and how the respective countries have responded:

Washing machines and solar cells

File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI

On Jan. 22, Trump imposed new tariffs on all large residential washing machines, and solar cells and modules imported to the United States.

The first 1.2 million finished washing machines face a 20 percent tariff in the Year 1, 18 percent in Year 2 and 16 percent in Year 3. Subsequent washers and covered parts are 50 percent, 45 percent and 40 percent.

The first 2.5 gigawatts of imported solar cells are exempt from tariffs, but items beyond that face 30 percent tariffs in Year 1, and 25 percent, 20 percent and 15 percent in subsequent years.

China, the European Union, South Korea and Taiwan lodged complaints with the World Trade Organization over the solar cell tariffs, and July 23, Canada asked for a NAFTA review, calling the U.S. tariffs "unfair and illegal."

Steel and aluminum

File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

On March 8, surrounded by steel and aluminum makers, Trump signed a proclamation imposing a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent tariff on foreign-made aluminum.

When he floated the idea of the tariffs earlier in the month, Trump described trade wars as "good and easy to win." He cited national security concerns as his legal reasoning for the tariffs.

The administration initially excluded Canada and Mexico, but on May 31 the two North American countries and the European Union became subject to the tariffs.

The United States granted permanent exemption to Argentina, Australia, Brazil and South Korea.


-- On June 5, Mexico announced $3 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports like pork, steel, cheese, whiskey and dozens of other items. Chief White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Trump wanted to negotiate with Mexico and Canada separately on trade. Mexican negotiators say they won't consider splitting negotiations for a matter that should be covered under NAFTA.

-- On June 20, the EU retaliated with a 25 percent tariff on about 200 U.S. products, including steel, aluminum, corn, rice, orange juice, cigarettes, peanuts, cigars, clothing and cosmetics. A 10 percent tariff also was slapped on U.S.-made playing cards. The tariffs were played on more than $3 billion worth of products, the full list of which was published on the EU website.


In response to the increased cost of production due to the EU tariffs, U.S. motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson announced in late June it was moving its production of motorcycles for European customers overseas.

File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

On July 25, Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced they were working toward a plan to eliminate all non-auto tariffs between the two regions. The United States and European Union also will meet with "like-minded partners" to reform the WTO. During the negotiations, both sides will refrain from imposing new tariffs and will look to resolve steel and aluminum tariffs as well as retaliatory tariffs.

-- On July 1, Canada imposed retaliatory tariffs on about $12.5 billion worth of U.S. goods. That included a 25 percent tax on more than 40 U.S. steel products and a tax of 10 percent on more than 80 other items such as toffee, maple syrup, coffee beans and some candy. Canada's Department of Finance published the full list of items on its website.


-- China and the EU both lodged complaints with the WTO over the steel and aluminum tariffs.

Trade dispute with China

File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI

-- On March 22, Trump signed a presidential order imposing tariffs on at least $50 billion on Chinese goods to stem what he described as "economic aggression" by Beijing and an unbalanced trade deficit. The tariffs were the result of a Section 301 trade investigation launched the previous summer. The inquiry found that Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property was costing the U.S. economy billions of dollars.

The 25 percent tax targeted some 1,300 items, including steel, aluminum, machinery, electronics and aerospace products. The full list was published in the Federal Register.

-- China responded April 2 with tariffs on $3 billion worth of U.S. items, largely agricultural products and metal. A total of 128 items were targeted with a 15 percent duty, including fresh fruits, dried fruits, nuts, wines, modified ethanol, American ginseng and seamless steel pipes. And U.S. pork and recycled aluminum was hit with a 25 percent tariff.


Trump announced $12 billion in aid for U.S. farmers hurt by China's increased tariffs on agricultural products on July 24.

RELATED Midwestern farmers brace to lose billions in trade war

-- China called for an end to the trade dispute through talks with the United States, but on May 29, the United States announced another round of tariffs on about $50 billion in Chinese goods. The 25 percent tax targeted "industrially significant technology," the full list of which was published in the Federal Register.

-- Trump announced another round of 25 percent of tariffs June 15 on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. The new list included more machinery and aerospace products.

-- China immediately expanded its own list of types of U.S. products to be tariffed, including farm products, cars and crude oil. Beijing accused the United States of starting a trade war.

"It is deeply regrettable that in disregard of the consensus between the two sides, the U.S. has demonstrated flip-flops and ignited a trade war," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said. "China has no choice but to fight back forcefully. ... We will immediately take tariff measures of the same scale and intensity."


-- On Sept. 17, Trump said he would impose 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of good starting Sept. 24, a figure that will increase to 25 percent on Jan. 1. The list of items included electronics, food, tools and housewares previously targeted, but eliminated some smart watches, Bluetooth devices, chemicals for manufacturing, textiles, agriculture and certain safety products like bicycle helmets.

-- One day later, China retaliated with up to 10 percent tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. imports, including liquefied natural gas, smaller aircraft, computers, textiles, chemicals, meat, wheat and wine. Trump promised to respond with another levy on $267 billion worth of Chinese products.

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