US-China trade war may continue through Trump presidency: expert

The trade war between the United States and China is likely to persist till the end of Donald Trump's presidency, but the US president might change his mind if the Republican Party loses in the mid-term elections in November, according to an expert.

Trump pays little attention to the economic and trade rules, and what he cares about is how to win the hearts of voters, said Ellen Frost, a senior adviser and fellow at East-West Center in Washington.

But Frost predicted that Trump might reflect on his trade policy toward China if voters resent it.

Frost said that there is also opposition from some congressmen and government officials, who believe that the new round of proposed tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods is much more destructive than previous tariff actions because it could badly damage the US economy and the interests of American people.

The office of the United States Trade Representative has released a list of $200 billion worth of Chinese goods that will be subject to the additional tariffs which will take effect starting September 24, 2018 at the rate of 10 percent initially, and then, increasing to 25 percent on January 1, 2019.

These heavy tariffs would also affect many other countries including Malaysia, Vietnam and Laos, as they are part of the industry chain of the so-called Chinese products, said Frost.

Frost suggested that the United States, the European Union, Japan and Canada should join hands to deal with problems including China's mandatory technology transfer and government subsidies to exports.

In late August, the South China Morning Post quoted diplomatic sources and observers as saying that the United States and European Union were trying to pressure China to stop subsidizing its industrial development and technology sectors and to lower market access thresholds, which has upset Beijing. But the European Union has disagreed on the American approach of using tariffs to deal with China.

In Frost's opinion, the US-China trade war is not the only concern for the Trump administration. The United States has also launched the "Section 232" investigations into imports of its allies, straining the ties with its allies. Recently, Trump also signaled a potential trade war with ally Japan, which is still dreaming of materializing the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement in the absence of the United States. Trump has also threatened to withdraw the United States from the World Trade Organization, with the goal of creating new WTO reforms favorable to his country.

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