10:09 GMT +319 October 2018
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    President Donald Trump shakes hands with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, before the start of a meeting with House and Senate Leadership in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, June 6, 2017

    Defying Trump, US Senate Votes to Cut Tariffs on Hundreds of Items Made in China

    © AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais
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    The move is seen to run in direct conflict with the trade strategy of President Trump's cabinet, a member of which warned Thursday that the United States and the European Union would now be joining forces "in the fight against China."

    The Senate unanimously passed a bill cutting or completely eliminating tariffs on foreign-made consumer goods including toasters, industrial goods like chemicals, and about 1,660 other items, almost half of which are produced in China, Reuters has reported.

    The bill passed unanimously, with no debate. The measure, called the "miscellaneous tariff bill," has now passed in both the Senate and the House, with the two chambers now expected to resolve minor differences before sending the bill to the president's desk for signing.

    Supporters of the bill claim that the tariffs the bill removes target industries which don't even exist in the US anymore, and that removing them would boost the US economy. Beneficiaries would include companies such as Hamilton Beach, a maker of domestic appliances, which used to make its toaster ovens, irons and other goods in the USA, but now makes them abroad.

    Opponents of the bill say it would allow foreign-made goods to undermine American-made products, particularly those produced by smaller US companies.

    President Trump made it a key plank of his campaign during the 2016 election to rebuild America's industrial base and has resorted to imposing stiff tariffs on foreign-made steel and aluminum, as well as washing machines, solar panels, and other goods. The president slapped $50 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods in March, prompting China to threaten to curb imports of US goods such as soybeans. Canada, the European Union, and Mexico responded to Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs by targeting American agricultural goods, liquor, jeans, motorcycles, and other items.

    This week, President Trump met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to discuss ways to resolve the trade dispute. Europe reportedly agreed to ramp up imports of American soybeans and liquefied natural gas and to work toward zero tariffs and subsidies on non-automotive industrial goods after Trump threatened to impose a 20 percent tariff on European cars. White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told Fox News Business that Brussels would now offer the US support in challenging China's alleged unfair trade practices.

    On Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed that Beijing was looking to avoid a trade war with the US, since such a conflict would have no winners. "Those who pursue this course will only end up hurting themselves," he said. China has repeatedly warned that it would respond in kind to protect its interests amid the escalating trade conflict with the US. In June, President Trump threatened to introduce tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

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    Tags:
    tariffs, bill, Trump administration, US Senate, US Congress, Donald Trump, European Union, China, United States
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