The United States has increased tariffs from 10% to 25% on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. China on Friday said it “deeply regrets” the increased tariffs and will take the “necessary countermeasures” without giving any details.
The increases are going into effect amid talks between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
On Thursday the U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators ended the first of two days of talks aimed at saving a trade deal even as President Donald Trump said the new “very heavy tariffs” on Chinese products would go ahead.
The White House said Thursday evening that “Ambassador Lightizer and Secretary Mnuchin met with President Trump to discuss the ongoing trade negotiations with China. The ambassador and secretary then had a working dinner with Vice Premier Liu He and agreed to continue discussions tomorrow morning at USTR.”
Talks on Friday
Liu He is leading the Chinese negotiating team for the talks, which threatened to collapse after the Trump administration accused Beijing of backtracking.
“We were getting very close to a deal, then they started to renegotiate the deal,” said Trump Thursday in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
“It was their idea to come back” and resume discussion ahead of the Friday deadline for additional tariffs, the president said. Trump said he had also received “a beautiful letter” from Xi that expressed a sentiment of “let’s work together.”
Trump told reporters that he happens “to think tariffs for our country are very powerful,” in line with a view he has been expressing that such increased punitive taxes would be good for America’s economy.
Tariffs and economic growth
Some economists, however, predict such tariffs would cut in half the U.S. economic growth seen in the first quarter of this year.
Earlier officials in Beijing said they have “made all necessary preparations” if Trump followed through on the pledge to impose the new set of tariffs.
Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters in Beijing Thursday that China will not bow to any pressure and warned it has the “determination and ability to defend its own interests.”
The ministry issued an earlier statement vowing to take any necessary countermeasures if the tax is implemented.
The Trump administration hopes the new tariffs will force changes in China’s trade, subsidy and intellectual property practices.
President Donald Trump said Friday his administration will pursue raising the age to purchase electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21 in its upcoming plans to combat youth vaping.
Trump told reporters his administration will release its final plans for restricting e-cigarettes next week but provided few other details.
“We have to take care of our kids, most importantly, so we’re going to have an age limit of 21 or so,” said Trump, speaking outside the White House.
Currently the minimum age to purchase any tobacco or vaping product is 18, under federal law. But more than one-third of U.S. states have already raised their sales age to 21.
A federal law raising the purchase age would require congressional action.
Administration officials were widely expected to release plans this week for removing virtually all flavored e-cigarettes from the market. Those products are blamed for soaring rates of underage use by U.S. teenagers.
However, no details have yet appeared, leading vaping critics to worry that the administration is backing away from its original plan.
Trump resisted any specifics on the scope of the restrictions.
“We’re talking about the age, we’re talking about flavors, we’re also talking about keeping people working — there are some pretty good aspects,” Trump said.
Underage vaping has reached what health officials call epidemic levels. In the latest government survey, 1 in 4 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the previous month.
Fruit, candy, dessert and other sweet vaping flavors have been targeted because of their appeal to underage users.
On Thursday, Juul Labs, the nation’s largest e-cigarette maker, announced it would voluntarily pull its mint-flavored e-cigarettes from the market. That decision followed new research that Juul’s mint is the top choice for many high school students who vape.
With the removal of mint, Juul only sells two flavors: tobacco and menthol.
Vaping critics say menthol must be a part of the flavor ban to prevent teens who currently use mint from switching over.
Juul and other tobacco companies have lobbied in support of a federal “Tobacco 21” law to reverse teen use of both e-cigarettes and traditional tobacco products. The effort also has broad bipartisan support in Congress, including a bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The logic for hiking the purchase age for cigarettes and other products is clear: Most underage teens who use e-cigarettes or tobacco get it from older friends. Raising the minimum age to 21 is expected to limit the supply of those products in U.S. schools.
Delaying access to cigarettes is also expected to produce major downstream health benefits, with one government-funded report estimating nearly 250,000 fewer deaths due to tobacco over several decades.
Still, anti-tobacco groups have insisted that any “Tobacco 21” law must be accompanied by a ban on flavors, which they say are the primary reason young people use e-cigarettes. (VOA)