China vows not to fire tariff shot ahead of US in trade war

The NYK Demeter container ship approaches the Port of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California, US, on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. (Bloomberg pic)

BEIJING: China said that it wouldn’t implement tariffs ahead of the US on Friday, after previous arrangements put it on course to do so.

“We will never fire the first shot and will not implement tariffs ahead of the US,” the Ministry of Finance said in a statement late Wednesday, after media reported that Beijing would start levying tariffs hours ahead of the US due to the time zone difference.

Bloomberg earlier reported that China would start applying the duties from midnight on Friday — midday on July 5 in Washington — according to two officials with knowledge of the plans. The Chinese customs service had adjusted their systems so the new tariffs would start being charged as soon as the clock ticks over to July 6 in Beijing, according to one of the people.

Beijing time is 12 hours ahead of Washington. A statement issued by China’s State Council on June 16 said that retaliatory extra duties on US$34 billion of US imports are set to take effect on July 6.

The US Trade Representative’s statement from June 15 said that Customs and Border Protection would begin collecting their additional duties from July 6. Neither nation specified a time.

In the brewing trade war between the US and China, Beijing officials consistently seek to portray their nation as simply being on the defensive against Donald Trump’s aggressive tactics.