US ramps up tariffs on Chinese mineral imports

By William Clarke
Published: Friday, 10 May 2019

The failure of the latest round of US China trade talks has left importers of many pigments, clays and finished refractory materials facing a 25% tariff.

The United States hiked the import tariffs on a wide range of Chinese products, including pigments, clays, and finished refractory products on Friday May 10.

The failure of the latest round of trade talks between the US and China has meant the US failed to extend a deadline for the planned ramp-up of tariffs on a list of products from China.

A list of products, which covers about $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and was previously taxed at 10% on entry to the US, will now be charged at 25% of their value.

This move marks the latest escalation of trade tension between the US and China that has been a feature of US President Donald Trump’s time in office.

A wider range of minerals were originally included on the tariff list, first suggested in 2018.

But a number of strategic minerals were excluded from the final tariff list finally implemented in September 2018, including graphite, magnesia, alumina and silicon carbide, antimony, rare earths and barite.

The minerals included on the September 2018 tariff list, including refractory finished products, some ceramic minerals such as kaolin, lithium and titanium dioxide, and aluminium hydroxide have been taxed at 10% up until this point.

The tariff was initially intended to increase to 25% at the start of the year, but the hike was delayed as talks went on.

Now, with the failure of the latest round of talks, all those products previously taxed at 10% will be taxed at 25%.

A full list of the commodities subject to the 25% tariff, as first announced in September 2018, can be seen here.

On Twitter, Trump suggested there may be some flexibility on the list, saying "waivers on some products will be granted". But no details were given of which material could attract tariff waivers.

The US first imposed sweeping tariffs under its Section 232 trade legislation on $60 billion worth of Chinese products in March 2018, including a 25% duty on steel products and a 10% duty on aluminium.

China has since retaliated with restrictions on US agricultural exports, leading to a mutual escalation of trade barriers and hostile rhetoric, which the latest round of trade talks has failed to resolve.

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