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US imposes new tariffs on metals from China: White House, USTR

Washington — The US has imposed new tariffs on Chinese metals imports, the White House announced Monday evening.

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The US Trade Representative or USTR said that aluminum and steel items, including aluminum scrap and stranded wire plus stainless steel and alloy steel products, will be subject to a 10% tariff starting September 24. The tariff rate will increase to 25% on January 1, 2019.

Copper, zinc, molybdenum, lead, cobalt, tin and titanium will also be taxed, along with a variety of non-metals goods.

"If China takes retaliatory action against our farmers or other industries, we will immediately pursue phase three, which is tariffs on approximately $267 billion of additional imports," the White House said in a Monday statement.

The tariffs come as a result of USTR's Section 301 investigation, which concluded that China behaves in an "unreasonable and discriminatory" manner regarding technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation.

The agency says that the most recent action comes as a response to Chinese retaliatory tariffs on US products.

"China responded to the United States' tariff action by taking further steps to harm US workers and businesses. In these circumstances, the president has directed the US Trade Representative to increase the level of trade covered by the additional duties in order to obtain elimination of China's unfair policies," USTR said in a statement.

Chinese steel and aluminum imports are not subject to 301 tariffs; however, China remains subject to the 25% tariff on steel imports and 10% tariff on aluminum imports that the US began implementing March 23 as a result of Section 232 investigations into the impact of these imports on national security. A US lawmaker called for dialog between the two countries Monday, drawing attention to the potentially damaging impact of tariffs on US business.

Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said in a statement that there was "no disagreement between the president and Congress" regarding China's action, but added: "I worry that Americans will be forced to pay extra costs -- in this case on nearly half of US imports from China."

The lawmaker said that a solid exclusion process would help mitigate some of the effects of tariffs on US business.

"One way to relieve pressure on Americans is establish an effective and timely process to allow products to be excluded from these additional tariffs if tariffs would make it harder for us to sell more 'Made in America' products globally."

USTR has allowed US businesses to request product exclusions from tariffs on Chinese goods, though the request period ends October 9, according to a July 6 statement from the agency.

--Rebecca Grenham, rebecca.grenham@spglobal.com

--Edited by Wendy Wells, wendy.wells@spglobal.com