Imports of scrap aluminium, which are set to be targeted in China's retaliatory measures against USA steel and aluminium import tariffs, were down 28.7 percent year on year last month, and fell 8.7 percent in January and February.
In a retaliatory move, China unveiled plans yesterday to impose higher tariffs on $3 billion worth of American goods including pork and pipes in retaliation to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Beijing.
Tighter visa policies for Chinese students are also being considered, according to the executives, who declined to be identified in order to discuss private conversations.
China's top economic official, Premier Li Keqiang, appealed to Washington on Tuesday to "act rationally" and said, "we don't want to see a trade war".
China's Ministry Of Commerce also asked the United States to provide Chinese companies with a "fair and stable global trade environment" in a statement posted on its website late Wednesday.
The U.S. representative at the meeting did not respond directly to the criticism but said its tariffs were "consistent" with the WTO's General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
"Many other countries are now negotiating fair trade deals with us", Trump said on Friday.
The prospect of a full-blown trade war between the United States and China has sent shivers through economies supplying them, as a fall in demand would be inescapable.
"We are losing to China", US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer told a House committee on Wednesday.
"Neither the U.S. nor China wants to create total economic chaos for the other or for itself, and both nations actually have a surprising degree of economic inter-dependence today", Nelson Dong, co-head of the Asia group at worldwide law firm Dorsey & Whitney, writes in an email.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, fresh from eliminating term limits on his rule, presides over a government that already has drawn up lists of potential American products for retaliation in a trade war. Or, if China buys a certain number of Boeing aircraft, should the USA buy an equal number of C919s? "They've been thinking of this since Trump was elected".
In addition to the tariffs, the USA also plans to impose new investment restrictions, take action against China at the World Trade Organization and the Treasury Department also will propose additional measures.
The commerce ministry said China would implement the measures in two stages: first the 15% tariff on 120 products including steel pipes and wine worth $977 million, and later, the higher 25% tariff on $1.99 billion of pork and aluminium. Rather than working through the World Trade Organization (WTO), his latest moves represent an end run around a system that could provide useful leverage in the future.
And that, in turn, could lead to lower productivity and US growth, which could also hit consumers' pocketbooks, experts say. "It is very stupid behaviour, even shameless".
US companies with substantial sales to China were clobbered in the crossfire Thursday.
The ministry said China bought about $1 billion worth of those goods a year ago.
The administration says that US companies face pressure to hand over technology to their Chinese partners to gain needed government permits and licenses. He adds that they are "having a negative effect on US workers and businesses". "China urges the United States to resolve China's concerns as soon as possible, resolve bilateral differences through dialogue and consultation, and avoid damage to the broader array of Chinese-U.S. cooperation".
The US exports large amounts of refined products and petrochemicals.
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