U.S. trading partners are starting to respond to the Trump administration’s decision to slap steep tariffs on imports of solar panels and washing machines.
The Chinese Commerce Ministry on Tuesday expressed “strong dissatisfaction” over the move, saying it “aggravates the global trade environment.”
The tariff of 30% on foreign solar panels is a blow for China, the world’s biggest supplier of the products. Beijing has been widely accused of heavily subsidizing its domestic solar industry and flooding global markets with cheap panels.
The new measures are Trump’s first significant trade actions of 2018 and a demonstration of his “America First” agenda.
“The President’s action makes clear again that the Trump Administration will always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses in this regard,” Lighthizer said.
The Chinese Commerce Ministry called the U.S. process that led to the tariffs “an abuse” of the trade measures available to the Trump administration. In its investigations, the U.S. International Trade Commission determined that imports of solar panels and washers had hurt American companies.
Experts have warned that trade issues are set to put a heavy strain on relations between the world’s two largest economies this year.
With Trump expected to make big decisions on possible tariffs in other areas in the coming months, Beijing urged his administration to tread carefully.
“China hopes the U.S. will exercise restraint in using trade restrictions,” the ministry said in a statement, warning that it will “resolutely defend its legitimate interests.”
Other countries and foreign companies are also firing back against the Trump administration’s announcement. Here’s what they’re saying:
South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong called Trump’s decision “excessive and a clear violation” of World Trade Organization rules.
South Korea plans to file a complaint with the WTO over the move to impose tariffs, Kim said at a meeting with industry officials.
“The U.S. opted for a measure that puts the domestic political situation above international rules,” he said.
South Korea is one of the main losers from the U.S. tariffs on washing machines. Two of its biggest companies, Samsung and LG, are key suppliers to the American market.
The Trump administration is already engaged in talks with the South Korean government to overhaul the free trade pact between the two countries.
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