As US slaps on fresh tariffs, China fires back

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The Trump administration has accused China of unfair trade practices, and President Donald Trump has long vowed to bring down the United States' trade deficit in goods with Beijing.

According to data by China's General Administration of Customs compiled by Reuters, Chinese crude oil imports increased to 8.48 million bpd in July from 8.36 million bpd in June and from 8.18 million bpd in July past year. The U.S. Trade Representative's Office is reviewing tariffs on a further US$200 billion in Chinese imports and those duties could start once a comment period ends on September 6. China responded by promising to hit $60 billion worth of United States goods coming into the country with tariffs. Washington applied a 25% tariff on Chinese imports including airplane tires and various industrial parts.

So far, China has now either imposed or proposed tariffs on $110 billion of USA goods, representing the vast majority of its annual imports of American products.

China's crude oil imports in July rose for the first time in three months, but were still at their third lowest monthly level so far this year, as independent refiners continue to suffer from the new tax regime eroding their refining margins.

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But China exports far more to the United States than the other way round, making it more challenging for the country to hit back against U.S. tariffs.

After a strong start to the year, growth in the world's second-largest economy cooled slightly in the second quarter, partly hit by the government's years-long efforts to tackle debt risks.

The government has responded by releasing more liquidity into the banking system, encouraging lending and promising a more "active" fiscal policy.

Wednesday's data showed that China's trade with the United States totaled 2.29 trillion yuan in the first seven months, up 5.2 percent year on year.

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Economists had forecast the surplus would be $39.33 billion in July, compared to a surplus of $41.47 billion in June. It would likely have to impose penalties on USA companies doing business in China to make up the difference.

"This is a very unreasonable practice", the Chinese commerce ministry said of the US action on Wednesday as it rolled out China's counter-tariffs.

The U.S. action that prompted the Chinese retaliation was the latest by President Donald Trump to put pressure on China to negotiate trade concessions, after Washington imposed tariffs on $34 billion USA in goods last month.

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