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China Imposes Tariffs On Long List Of U.S. Produced Goods


The U.S. stock market fell sharply today with the Dow Industrials diving more than 450 points. That's about 1.9 percent. Tech stocks fueled the decline because investors are worried about privacy issues and added regulation. The markets were also burdened by the widening trade dispute between the world's two largest economies, the U.S. and China. China's followed through on its threat to impose steep tariffs on U.S. products. Joining us to talk more about this latest development and where it's headed is NPR's economics correspondent John Ydstie.

Welcome to the studio, John.


CORNISH: So there are something like 128 products on the list that China is targeting. Give us some examples.

YDSTIE: Well, the first category is U.S. fruits and nuts. And there are 78 specific products in that group from roasted macadamia nuts to lemons and limes. Another category is American wine, both sparkling and still. Stainless steel pipes are also being targeted. Pork, a big U.S. export to China, is on the list. And Jim Monroe, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, told me that's a big deal.

JIM MONROE: China is a particularly important market for us. We sent $1.1 billion worth of pork to China last year.

YDSTIE: That's 17 percent of total U.S. pork exports.

CORNISH: Now, the list isn't random, right? China says it's targeting $3 billion worth of imports from the U.S. How did they arrive at that specific figure?

YDSTIE: Well, that's roughly equal to the value of the recently imposed U.S. tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum. But remember, there are other actions in the U.S. pipeline, too. A couple of weeks ago, trade officials here announced they're planning to impose another set of tariffs on China. Those will be aimed at punishing the Chinese for allowing the theft of U.S. intellectual property and for China's rules that require U.S. companies to participate in joint ventures that give their companies access to U.S. technologies.

CORNISH: But we don't know yet which products the U.S. will be targeting, right?

YDSTIE: We don't know yet, but we're expecting a complete list later this week. The U.S. has said it's likely to include consumer electronics and computers and will involve up to $60 billion worth of imports from China. And China says it might retaliate against U.S. soybeans, a huge American export crop.

CORNISH: In the meantime, I think the question on everyone's mind at this point is whether or not we're officially in a trade war, what that looks like?

YDSTIE: Well, the experts I talked to say, no. But they say we are on a slippery slope. China didn't raise the stakes in the tariffs it imposed today. They're proportional to the $3 billion in damage they think they could suffer under the U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs. But China didn't put the brakes on either. Its trade ministry did say both sides should use dialogue and consultation to resolve their mutual concerns. And there are some talks going on between trade officials from the two countries. We'll see if they can make some progress.

CORNISH: NPR's John Ydstie. John, thanks so much.

YDSTIE: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.