The Trade War Is On: How We Got Here and What's Next

(Bloomberg) -- The trade dispute between the U.S. and China continues.

Chinese officials have announced retaliation following U.S. President Donald Trump’s authorization of a new round of tariffs on an additional $200 billion of Chinese goods, a move that brought the total amount targeted by the U.S. in recent months to $250 billion.

Here’s a timeline of major developments this year -- in reverse chronological order -- and also the main dates of coming events.

DateJoint actionU.S. actionChinese action
9/18/2018China announces retaliation on $60 billion of U.S. goods to become effective simultaneously with the U.S. duties.
9/17/2018U.S. announces 10 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese exports effective Sept. 24 until the end of 2018, to rise to 25 percent afterward. Smart watches and a few other items from the preliminary list are exempted.
9/6/2018End of comment period for tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese exports. China’s retaliation might begin immediately after the U.S. action.
8/23/2018Tariffs on $16 billion of Chinese imports to begin.Chinese retaliation of tariffs on $16 billion of U.S. exports to begin.
8/03/2018China announces a list of $60 billion worth of U.S. imports it plans to apply tariffs on should the Trump administration follow through with higher tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods.
8/02/2018U.S. Trade Representative confirms that President Trump is considering increasing proposed tariff on $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent. 
7/31/2018China, US. reported to be trying to restart trade talks. 
7/26/2018Qualcomm Inc. decides to scrap a $44 billion takeover of NXP Semiconductors NV, because China didn’t sign off as time expired.
7/20/2018Trump says he’s "ready to go" with tariffs on $500 billion of Chinese imports.
7/11/2018The USTR releases a list of $200 billion of Chinese goods it plans to impose an extra 10 percent tariffs on.
7/6/2018Tariffs on $34 billion of imports begin.Tariffs on $34 billion of imports begin.
7/6/2018ZTE Corp. receives limited authorization to resume business.
7/3/2018U.S. computer chip company Micron Technology Inc. ordered to halt sales in China. 
6/27/2018Trump agrees to less aggressive option to limit Chinese investment in the U.S. 
6/21/2018President Xi Jinping says China will hit back if struck, according to the Wall Street Journal, and criticizes U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling Chinese claims of economic openness “a joke.”
6/20/2018White House releases report  accusing China of threatening U.S. interests.
6/19/2018Trump says U.S. looking to put tariffs on another $200 billion of Chinese exports, with another $200 billion after that if China retaliates. 
6/18/2018Pompeo calls Chinese claims of economic openness “a joke.”
6/15/2018U.S. announces tariffs on $50 billion of imports from China, with Trump threatening more if China retaliates.China responds in kind. 
6/15/2018Qualcomm Inc.’s takeover of NXP Semiconductors NV is said to be approved by Chinese regulators, although a later report contradicts this.
6/15/2018Pompeo meets Xi, discussing trade and security.
6/7/2018Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announces deal allowing ZTE to get back into business. 
6/6/2018China said to offer to buy $25 billion more of U.S. goods in 2018.
6/3/2018China says previous offers and deals are off if tariffs imposed.
6/2-4/2018Wilbur Ross, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He meet in Beijing for talks.
5/30/2018China announces cuts to tariffs on some consumer goods, to start July 1. 
5/29/2018U.S. announces plan to limit some visas for Chinese citizens to protect intellectual property.
5/29/2018U.S. announces that it’s moving ahead with tariffs on $50 billion of imports and a plan to curb investment in sensitive technology.
5/29/2018China said to be considering buying more U.S. coal to narrow trade deficit.
5/28/2018At the WTO, U.S. accuses China of imposing laws that result in the theft of U.S. tech and IP. 
5/28/2018China ready to approve Qualcomm/NXP deal if it gets assurances that the U.S. will lift ban on ZTE Corp.
5/28/2018U.S. said to be pressing China to sign long-term import contracts. 
5/25/2018U.S. announces a $1.3 billion fine and other punishments for ZTE, but will allow company to resume purchasing from American suppliers.
5/23/2018Trump backs away from the previous day’s deal, saying U.S. will "probably have to use a different structure."
5/22/2018China will cut import duties on cars to 15% from 25%.
5/22/2018Two nations agree on  the "broad outline" of a settlement for ZTE dispute, the WSJ reports.China offered to remove tariffs on U.S. farm products as part of the deal.
5/21/2018Trump tweets that China will buy "massive amounts of additional farm/agricultural products."
5/20/2018Both nations reach an agreement and issue a joint statement. The U.S. agrees to hold off on tariffs. China offers to significantly increase purchases of U.S. goods. 
5/18/2018China ends anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into sorghum.
5/17/2018Talks start in Washington.
5/14/2018China is said to restart review of Qualcomm’s proposed NXP deal.
5/13/2018Trump tweets that he’s working with Xi to get ZTE "back into business."
5/10/2018ZTE ceases major operations in the U.S. 
5/3-4/2018Trade talks in Beijing. No agreement is reached, and no statement is released. U.S. demands a $200 billion cut in trade deficit.China protests over ZTE case, demands end of 301 investigation.
4/28/2018China objects to being on U.S. intellectual property watch list.
4/27/2018U.S. keeps China on IP priority watch list of nations.
4/26/2018Reported that China may cut car import tariffs by half. 
4/26/2018Reported that U.S. looking into China’s Huawei Technologies Co. for possible violation of sanctions against Iran.
4/17/2018China announces it will collect anti-dumping tariffs on sorghum imports from the U.S., a trade worth about $1 billion in 2017.
4/16/2018U.S. penalizes China’s ZTE for violating a previous agreement punishing it for doing business with Iran and North Korea. The company is banned from buying U.S. technology for seven years.
4/10/2018Xi  promises to open up various sectors including autos and finance.
4/5/2018Trump issues statement that says “in light of China’s unfair retaliation” for his initial tariffs, his administration will consider an addition $100 billion in tariffs. 
4/5/2018China complains to the World Trade Organization about U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
4/4/2018U.S. responds to China’s WTO complaint on the section 301 tariffs, calling it baseless.
4/4/2018China complains to WTO about the section 301 tariff action by the U.S.
4/4/2018China 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.
4/3/2018The U.S. releases a list dominated by high-tech industrial products as targets for proposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of imports. This is aimed at recouping losses from China’s alleged abuse of intellectual property.
4/2/2018China says it will start levying tariffs on $3 billion of U.S. imports including fresh fruits, nuts, wine and pork.
Early AprilLiu He tells other officials that trade talks between the two parties broke down after the U.S. demanded that China curtail support for high-technology industries.Beijing had offered to cut the bilateral trade deficit by $50 billion. 
3/27/2018U.S. releases Section 301 report on China.
3/23/2018China unveils tariffs on $3 billion of U.S. imports in response to steel and aluminum tariffs .
3/23/2018US complains to WTO about Chinese protection of IP.
3/22/2018U.S. proposes tariffs in response to China’s "unfair trade practices” related to technology transfer, IP, and innovation; says it will complain to WTO and look at restricting investment from China. 
3/9/2018Trump signs tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from all nations, including China.
2/4/2018China starts a one-year anti-subsidy investigation into sorghum imported from the U.S.
1/22/2018U.S. imposes safeguard tariffs on washing machine and solar cell imports. While much of these imports don’t come from China, the statement makes clear that Chinese dominance of the global supply chain was a concern.

Further Reading

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: James Mayger in Tokyo at jmayger@bloomberg.net;Xiaoqing Pi in Beijing at xpi1@bloomberg.net;Miao Han in Beijing at mhan22@bloomberg.net

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With assistance from Editorial Board