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The American Chamber of Commerce in China has said it believes that threatening tariffs can be a useful tool to force Beijing to make more concessions at the negotiating table. But the strategy may backfire.
The American Chamber of Commerce in China said it viewed the White House's latest threat of tariffs on Chinese imports as a helpful "negotiating step" ahead of a US delegation's visit to Beijing later this week.
"We don't believe tariffs are the appropriate way to proceed," said the chamber's policy committee chairman, Lester Ross, adding that such duties would ultimately constitute a tax on US consumers.
"However, tariffs or the threat of tariffs are a very useful, a very powerful negotiating tactic," he argued. "And to the extent that they have helped bring China to the negotiating table in a more serious way than has been the case in the past, then we think that is very useful."
The White House said Tuesday it would impose a 25-percent tariff on $50 billion (€43 billion) worth of Chinese goods, reversing an earlier decision to put trade frictions on hold.
The two sides had agreed earlier this month to look at steps to narrow China's $375-billion trade surplus with the United States.
The Chinese government on Wednesday lashed out at Washington's unexpected statement on pressing ahead with tariffs and restrictions on investments by Chinese companies, saying it was ready to fight back if Washington was looking to ignite a trade war.
"The Chinese government will have the necessary measures in place to deal with a US withdrawal from any settled agreement — if the US wants to play games, then China would be more than willing to play along and do so until the very end," China's Global Times tabloid commented.
hg/tr (Reuters, dpa)