China unveils list of potential retaliatory tariffs on US goods

Beijing (AFP) - China released Friday a list of potential tariffs on $3 billion worth of US goods, from pork to fruits and wine, that it could impose in response to new US trade duties.

The commerce ministry warned that a 15 percent tariff on 120 goods worth almost $1 billion -- including fresh fruit, nuts, ginseng and wine -- would be imposed if the United States fails to reach a negotiated agreement.

In a second phase, a 25 percent duty would be imposed on a eight goods totalling nearly $2 billion, including pork and aluminium scrap, after "further evaluating the impact of the US measures on China," it said in a statement.

The ministry said the list was aimed at offsetting the losses incurred from US tariffs on steel and imports, which are due to take effect on Friday.

But the statement also came hours after President Donald Trump announced tariffs on Chinese imports over the "theft" of intellectual property, fuelling fears of a looming trade war.

"China and the United States as the world's top two economies, cooperation is the only right choice for the two countries," the commerce ministry statement said.

China "urges the US side to resolve the concerns of the Chinese side as soon as possible" through dialogue and "avoid damage to the overall situation of Sino-US cooperation," it said.

The list noticeably does not include soybeans, which Chinese state-run newspaper the Global Times had suggested should be targeted by Beijing.

It would be a major blow to US farmers, as a third of their soybean exports go to China, in a business worth $14 billion last year.

And the political stakes are high: Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the 10 top soybean-producing states in the 2016 election.

The United States has decided to exempt the European Union and six other countries from the steel and aluminium tariffs.

While China is the world's largest steel producer, it accounts for less than one percent of US imports and sells only 10 percent of its wrought aluminium abroad.