Chinese customs officials are holding up shipments of imported Ford automobiles for technical checks. Trade experts believe the move is meant to put pressure on Washington after US President Donald Trump said in April that he is considering tariffs of up to $150 billion on Chinese goods.
Analysts fear that ongoing war of words between the US and China could escalate into a full-blow trade war that would have a decisive global impact. The American President accuses Beijing of unfair trade practices that misappropriates intellectual property, sponsors outright acquisition of American companies, and leads to loss of jobs.
China’s ministry for commerce vowed to fight the US tariffs “at any cost” while the state-run Tabloid Global Times called Trump’s warnings “ridiculous”. Beijing released a list of US goods worth $50 billion that could see tariff hikes.
The unusual inspections on the vehicle consignment are not limited to Ford Motor Co. US-manufactured cars from BMW and Daimler AG have also seen delayed clearance from the China’s customs.
Japanese and European cars have not been subjected to the same special treatment; neither has American carmaker General Motors reported any change. A spokesperson for the company said that almost all cars sold in China are built in China.
Automobiles are not the only product to have attracted the attention of the Chinese customs agency, after announcements in recent weeks that US pork, apples, and logs would face additional checks at import.
A spokeswoman in Shanghai for Ford said: “We are closely monitoring our situation at the port.” But declined to comment further. Last year, Ford Motor Company imported more than 80,000 units into China, the world’s biggest car market.