(1) Jan. 2017: President Trump decides to withdraw the US from Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP - the free trade agreement between 12 Pacific neighbouring countries.
(2) Launch of the US investigation into Chinese policies on technology transfers, intellectual property and innovation and their impact on US economic interests.
(3) US implements safeguard tariffs - import duties that can be applied as an emergency measure to protect domestic industry from harmful foreign competition - on US imports of solar panels and washing machines. The tariffs apply to solar panels and washing machines from all US trading partners, but are mainly focused on China.
(4) When implementing US tariffs on steel and aluminium, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, South Korea and the EU were initially excluded until 1 June. However, from then on, American imports of steel and aluminium from these countries were also subject to tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminium imports). The tariffs foreshadowed a complex trade conflict.
(5) Several US trading partners (Mexico, Turkey, Russia, Canada, India, EU, China) are introducing retaliatory tariffs in response to US tariffs on steel and aluminium.
(6) Launch of the US investigation into the impact of US imports of cars and car parts on US national security.
(7) Following the announcement in March 2018 and the subsequent process of hearings and adjustments, the first installment of US tariffs on imports from China are implemented. In total, $50 billion of imports from China are subject to a 25% import tariff rate. On the first part of imports (worth $34 billion), the tariff enters into force in July 2018. From August, the tariff also applies to the rest (imports from China worth $16 billion). In response, China also implements a 25% tariff rate on imports from the US worth $50 billion. The growing trade deficit between the US and China seems to justify the US government's hard trade policy (figure 1). Yet this interpretation is not correct. Basically, the debate is not about free trade, but about technology.
(8) Juncker-Trump deal: agreement on the start of negotiations between the US and the EU. The abolition of import tariffs, non-tariff barriers and subsidies in the industrial sector, among other things, are part of the trade negotiations. As long as these negotiations are ongoing, the introduction of additional tariffs is suspended.
(9) After the announcement in June 2018 and the subsequent process of hearings and adjustments, follows the implementation of the second installment of U.S. tariffs on imports from China. In total, $200 billion of imports from China are subject to a 10% import tariff. This import tariff will rise to 25% from January 1, 2019 on. In response, China also implements import tariffs (between 5 and 10%) on imports from the US worth $60 billion. Subsequently, President Trump threatens with new import tariffs on American imports from China worth $267 billion (≈ the rest of the total American imports from China).
(10) The US, Mexico and Canada agree on a new version of the former
NAFTA agreement. The new agreement was renamed USMCA or US-Mexico-Canada Agreement. It revises
the rules for trade relations and also adds a number of new
chapters, which adapt the agreement to modern times (including a new
chapter on digital trade).