US–Chinese trade war puts scientists in the cross hairs

Source: Nature

Scientific research in the United States could become collateral damage in the country’s escalating trade dispute with China. Both countries went head-to-head in mid-June over tariffs on a long list of goods that includes lab equipment and reagents. That is likely to increase the cost of scientific research, and the impact could be felt more keenly in US labs.

The latest skirmish in the ongoing trade war between the world’s two largest economies began on 15 June, when the United States announced a 25% tax on 818 goods imported from China. The list includes equipment used by scientists such as basic electrical parts, microscopes and geological-survey devices. President Donald Trump said the tariffs, which will start on 6 July, are intended to reduce China’s dominance in industries such as robotics, new materials and information and communications technology, and will level the playing field for US firms. The Trump administration is considering tariffs on a further 284 industrial goods, including chemicals.

A day after the US announcement, China’s Ministry of Commerce responded with its own set of tariffs on 545 US products imported to China, which will also start on 6 July. The government will apply taxes in the future to another 114 US imports — including basic chemicals and medical devices, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines — although it has not announced a date.