NEWSBREAK: China retaliates with import tariff on US products from June 1; lead concentrates hardest hit

China will implement import tariffs on over 5,000 types of United States' goods starting June 1, 2019, marking an escalation in the trade war between the two countries, the government announced on May 13.

Last August, China said it would apply import tariffs of 25% on a series of US metal products including zinc and copper concentrates. Yet, at that time no timetable was confirmed. 

Starting next month, the 25% tariff will apply to copper anodes and cathodes; zinc ores and concentrates; refined zinc; nickel ores and concentrates and alumina. 

A 10% tariff will apply on US lead concentrates imports into China, which account for over 16% of total imports. More importantly, half of all US-origin lead concentrate shipments are sent to China, and the proposed tariff will affect North American miners such as Doe Run Co and Teck Resources, both of which ship major volumes to the Chinese markets, Fastmarkets understands. 

The retaliatory act came after the US government said it would increase its existing 10% additional duties on imports of base metals, ferrous metals and associated products from China to 25%, citing a lack of progress on ongoing trade talks, on Friday May 10.

Prior to the announcement, the threat of tariffs had already led customers in China to look to swap scheduled deliveries of concentrates with non-American origin cargoes.