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China announces 10% tariff on US paraxylene in retaliation, but impact likely limited

Singapore — China's Ministry of Commerce Tuesday evening announced in a statement that Beijing would be imposing retaliatory tariffs on $60 billion worth of US imports, including a 10% tariff on US-origin paraxylene.

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The new tariffs will be effective September 24, 12 pm Beijing time (0400 GMT).

Initial feedback from market participants suggests that the impact of the tariffs on the Chinese polyester industry will likely be limited. The US accounted for around 8% of the world's total PX production in 2017, and is not a major exporter of PX to China, industry sources said.

"The current import [volume] from the US to China is small, with South Korea, Japan, and the Middle East accounting for most of the PX imported last year. US exports to Asia can go to other countries, such as Taiwan, which in turn will displace some Asian-origin cargoes to China," a Chinese end-user said Tuesday.

China customs data shows that out of 14.4 million mt of PX imported in 2017, only 256,221 mt, or about 1.8%, was imported from the US. Detailed data for 2018 was not available yet.

Beijing's latest statement was released soon after the US had announced that it will be proceeding with proposed tariffs of 10% on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, effective September 24. The announced tariffs will be increased to 25% effective January 1, 2019.

China's Ministry of Commerce had earlier proposed a 25% tariff on US- origin paraxylene on August 3 as part of a package targeting about $60 billion worth of US products. The ministry had said in a statement then that it would impose the retaliatory tariffs, if the US proceeds with its proposal to impose tariffs of up to 25% on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

--Frank Zeng,

--Gustav Holmvik,

--Edited by Geetha Narayanasamy,