US China

The US is targeting fruit and vegetable imports from China as part of the latest planned salvo in its trade war with the Asian country.

In a move that threatens to escalate the ongoing dispute significantly and brings Chinese fresh fruit and vegetable exports into the firing line, US president Donald Trump has signed off on a move that would apply a further 10 per cent tariff to a long roster of imports worth a total of US$200bn.

The 194-page list of targeted products published by the office of US trade representative Robert Lighthizer features an extensive range of fresh produce, many of them key items for Chinese exporters to the US.

These include garlic and onions, which earned China US$130.4m and US$3.2m respectively in the US last year, as well as nuts – mainly cashews, chestnuts, macadamias, walnuts and almonds – which were worth a reported US$64.1m in 2017.

Also named on the list are imported Chinese pears (worth US$17m in 2017), apples (US$4.9m) and mushrooms (US$4.6m), plus a significant volume of imported dates and dried fruit.

Washington’s latest threat comes in response to China’s decision to impose a 25 per cent tariff on US$50bn worth of goods, including major US fruit exports.

That move came in response to the US levying a 25 per cent duty on US$50bn of imported Chinese goods, starting on 6 July.

US tariff hikes have also hit steel and aluminium imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico.

Almost immediately, the Mexican government announced it would impose equivalent measures on various US imports including apples, table grapes and cranberries.