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US-China: beef and automotive exports caught up in trade tension

Beef exports are now part of the growing trade tension between the US and China.

This dispute between the two trading partners began in March when the US imposed tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium from China. On March 23, the government in Beijing said it was “extremely unhappy” about this and said it would take necessary measures to defend its interests. It went on to list an initial 128 products that are now subject to tariffs if imported into China from the US. Pork exports were part of that list.

In early April, the US made its next move, announcing 25% tariffs on imports of 1,300 items from China, mostly industrial, technology, transport and medical products.

The most recent development is further retaliation from China. On April 4, it published a new list, naming a further 106 products that will be subject to tariffs, or additional tariffs (some are subject to a lower level of tariffs already) if brought into China from the US.

Beef features prominently on the April 4 list, which makes specific reference to seven different fresh and frozen types of beef imports from the US. Cattle hides are absent from the list, but automotive companies, including automotive tanners, will be concerned that a number of sports utility vehicles, hybrids and other high-value passenger cars do feature.

China has said it will only impose tariffs on this new list of products after the tariffs the US announced in early April kick in. Commentators have expressed hope that the time-lag may allow enough constructive dialogue to take place to avert these measures coming into force.

Image shows the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. Credit: FCA.

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