The U.S - China Trade Conflict Timeline

A few months ago, we wrote a piece on what was the escalating trade tensions between China and the United States. The conflict is an ongoing topic of debate so we’ve decided to reformat in order to make sure you have the most up to date information for your business. Because you likely don’t have hours to mull over all of the threats and drama between Xi and Trump, we’ve condensed the timeline into, what we consider to be, the most important developments.

Many import businesses already have teams in place and are optimized for working with China so switching manufacturing to other countries can be a huge headache. While these trade disputes have generated very little good news for importers, fortunately, most of your competitors are experiencing similar issues and the new tariffs likely haven’t given you a competitive disadvantage. We’re optimistic that some face-to-face time at the G20 will help settle some tensions between Trump and Xi but these past few months have served as a great reminder of just how fickle major economic relationships can be. This fragile nature of trade has exposed the dangers of an overly concentrated manufacturing network and has taught us that there is really no such thing as a status quo.

As of this writing, the United States has imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese exports. The complete lists of affected goods can be found below:

List 1

List 2

List 3

The Timeline

October 25

Trade talks resumed between the two countries. Trump and Xi are reported to be planning discussions to take place during November’s G20 summit in Argentina.

September 24

The US instated tariffs on List 3, affecting $200b worth of Chinese goods. As of September 24, the total value of goods affected by these new tariffs was $250b.

China responded by instating its proposed tariffs on $60b worth of US goods.

September 17 2018

USTR announced that there would be a 10% tariff on the $200b worth of Chinese exports that will go into effect on from Sept 24- Dec 31. Starting early 2019, the tariff rate on that list was proposed to increase to 25%. Immediately afterwards, China announced that it would impose tariffs on an additional $60b of US goods that would go into effect at the same time.

August 23

The US and China go forward and implement tariffs on $16b worth of goods in List 2.

August 3

In retaliation to the United States’ proposed List 3, China proposed a range of tariffs that would affect $60 billion in US products

August 2

President Trump begins considering a 25 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of goods on List 3 as opposed to the original proposed 10 percent.This list included consumer products, construction materials, tools, agricultural products and commercial electronics equipment.

July 6 2018

As promised, the US and China both move forward with tariffs on the  initial $34 billion in imports (List1). During this time, a second round of tariffs to impact $16b in goods on each side is under review (List 2).

June 18 2018

President Trump threatened a 10% tariff on an additional $200 billion in Chinese products. He also stated that another $200 billion would be imposed if China retaliated further. At this stage, the threats pretty much covered all of the United States annual $505.47 billion in Chinese imports.

May 29 2018

The United States announced that it would be moving ahead with its proposed tariffs on $50 billion of imports while also announcing a plan to limit visas for Chinese citizens in an attempt to protect intellectual property.

May 20 2018

The United States and China appear to reach an agreement after China offered to significantly increase purchases goods of U.S origin.

May 3 2018

The United States and China began engaging in trade talks in Beijing. Here, the U.S demanded a trade gap reduction of US$200 billion within the next two years. No agreement was reached.

April 4 2018

In response to the U.S government’s tariff implementation, the Chinese government announced a list of US origin products that will be subject to an addition 25% tariff which would also come into play on July 6 2018. The list covers $34 billion in Chinese imports from the US and can be viewed (in Mandarin) here.

April 3 2018

The U.S Trade Representative (USTR) announced the first list of products that would be impacted. That list contained 818 product lines comprised mostly of non-consumer products and included industries such as aerospace, technology, robotics, industrial machinery, medical equipment, and automobiles. The complete first list represented $34 billion in products and was set to be in effect as of July 6, 2018.

March 22, 2018

President Trump first announced  that the United States would be imposing a 25% tariff hike that would impact $50 billion in Chinese goods imported into the U.S annually.