U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Xi Jinping, China’s president, attend a news conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)  

Tit-for-Tat: Timeline of the Escalating U.S.-China Trade Dispute

(Bloomberg) -- Years of trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies have taken a turn for the worse since the start of 2018. Now they threaten to boil over into higher levies on hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade.

The U.S. and China have complained to the World Trade Organization about each other more than any other countries, with Beijing issuing 11 complaints against its biggest trading partner since joining the WTO in 2001, and Washington making 22 complaints.

Even with some of these complaints still outstanding, the pair are planning more, and an array of unilateral tariffs covering everything from agricultural produce to aircraft.

Here’s a timeline of major developments this year:

DateU.S. actionChinese action
Jan. 17U.S. imposes countervailing duties on imports of stainless steel flanges from China and India.
Jan. 22U.S. imposes safeguard tariffs on washing machine and solar-cell imports. While much of these don’t come from China, the U.S. trade representative’s statement makes clear that Chinese dominance of the global supply chain is a concern.
Feb. 4China starts a one-year anti-subsidy investigation into grain sorghum imported from the U.S.
Feb. 14U.S. imposes anti-dumping duties on cast-iron pipe fittings from China.
Feb. 27U.S. imposes anti-dumping and countervailing duties on aluminum foil from China after concluding that the country’s producers are receiving unfair subsidies and dumping the product in the American market.
Feb. 28China’s commerce ministry says it’s "strongly dissatisfied" with the duties on aluminum foil.
March 8U.S. imposes countervailing duties on forged steel fittings from China.
March 8President Donald Trump signs off on stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.
March 20U.S. imposes anti-dumping duties on stainless steel flanges from China and India.
March 22U.S. imposes anti-dumping duties on carton-closing staples from China.
March 22U.S. Trade Representative proposes 25 percent duties on Chinese products under section 301 to compensate for the harm caused to the American economy from China’s trade and economic policies.
March 23U.S. complains to the WTO about protection of intellectual property.
March 23China unveils tariffs on $3 billion of U.S. imports in response to the steel and aluminum duties.
April 2China says it will start levying tariffs on $3 billion of U.S. imports including fresh fruits, nuts, wine and pork.
April 3The U.S. releases a list of targets for proposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of imports, aiming to recoup losses from China’s alleged abuse of IP. The list is dominated by high-tech industrial products.
April 4China says it will levy an additional 25 percent tariff on imports of 106 U.S. products including soybeans, automobiles, chemicals and aircraft, in response to proposed American duties on its high-tech goods.
April 4China complains to the WTO about the section 301 tariff action by the U.S.
April 4U.S. responds to China’s WTO complaint, calling it baseless.
April 5Trump says that "in light of China’s unfair retaliation," he’s instructed the USTR to "consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate" and to identify which products to apply this to.
April 6China’s commerce ministry says the nation "will follow suit to the end and at any cost. It will use "new comprehensive countermeasures to firmly defend the interest of the nation and its people.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

With assistance from James Mayger, Miao Han, Xiaoqing Pi

Bloomberg
Stay Updated With News On The Chinese Economy On BloombergQuint