President Trump’s strong stance against China is starting to show fruit as it was revealed that China is backing down from retaliatory tariffs on some key exports.
The latest broadside fired by China in its trade war with the United States was a list of $16 billion in American imports subjected to a 25 percent retaliatory tariff. One major item that was supposed to be on the list was quietly removed: oil. Analysts wonder if this conspicuous omission is a sign China is blinking in its economic staredown against the Trump administration.
The Wall Street Journal noted on Thursday that oil was prominently listed as a target for retaliatory tariffs in June at a time when Beijing was trying to intimidate President Trump out of taking punitive measures against Chinese imports. A 25 percent tariff on American oil was a serious threat because China is now the world’s top buyer of U.S. crude. U.S. oil imports to China are worth $8 billion all by themselves, so erasing oil from the tariff list reduced the value of sanctioned goods by roughly one-third.
That is a massive revision to China’s retaliatory action, tantamount to stubbing someone’s toe after threatening to punch him in the nose.
In fact, some analysts went so far as to suggest Trump’s renewed sanctions on Iran are blunting the effects of the trade war with China. It is an uneasy balance that probably will not last long, as fears of a global oil shortage mount, but the current mood among investors is making both the U.S. dollar and U.S. Treasury waivers from Iran sanctions more valuable.
Trump’s willingness to proceed with sanctions on Iran despite enormous pressure from Europe may also have convinced the Chinese he means business, prompting the country to recalibrate its response accordingly.