In an escalation of the US-Chinese trade spat which began in June 2018, the Trump administration increased tariffs from 10 to 25 percent on about $200 billion in Chinese imports on Friday.
The past few months have seen no US liquefied natural gas (LNG) vessels arrive in China, which remains the second-biggest importer of the fuel in the world, according to shipping data revealed by the company Refinitiv Eikon.
Only two vessels (one in January and one in February) have departed the US, the world’s fourth-biggest LNG exporter, for China this year; it indicates a significant drop from the first four months of 2018, when 14 such ships docked at Chinese ports.
A total of 27 LNG ships sailed from the US to China last year, with most of the vessels leaving US ports before the beginning of the bilateral trade spat.
The trade war is “unproductive and creates some added costs for our Chinese consumers” but “hasn’t had an impact on us” and isn’t likely have an impact in the future, officials from Cheniere Energy Inc, which owns several major operational US LNG export terminals, was cited by Reuters as saying.
The developments come after the US, the world’s fourth-biggest LNG exporter, increased its tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods from 10 to 25 percent earlier this week.
In a series of tweets, President Donald Trump said, in turn, that the latest tariffs would produce “massive payments” that would go directly to the US Treasury Department.
He added that there was “absolutely no need to rush” on removing the higher tariffs, which he claimed would “bring far more wealth to our country than even a phenomenal deal of the traditional kind”.
Trump urged China to act now in terms of the ongoing Sino-US trade talks or the deal could become “far worse” for Beijing, i.e. if it has to be re-negotiated during his possible second presidential term.
The remarks came as the latest round of US-Chinese trade talks wrapped up in Washington on Friday, during which the sides failed to clinch any deal but agreed to meet for further negotiations in Beijing.
China and the US have been embroiled in a trade dispute since last June, when Trump announced the imposition of 25 percent tariffs on Chinese goods worth of $200 billion in a bid to fix the US-Chinese trade deficit, reflecting one of the pledges he made during his election campaign in 2016.
Even though the two countries are currently trying to negotiate a new trade deal, they have since then exchanged several rounds of trade tariffs. Beijing has already vowed to retaliate against Washington’s latest move.