Moody's, Fitch see limited impact of U.S. tariffs on Chinese economy

A man walks at a container area at the port in Shanghai, China April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song

(Reuters) - Global rating agencies Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings said on Wednesday the proposed U.S. tariffs will have limited direct impact on China’s economy and a negotiated solution is most likely.

Chinese President Xi Jinping had pledged on Tuesday to open the economy further and lower tariffs on products including cars in a speech seen as a conciliation amid rising trade tensions between the top two economies.

Moody’s said it expects the U.S. and China will prevent a significant escalation in their trade dispute going by the negative impact the restrictions will have on both economies.

"Trade has made a smaller contribution to China's GDP growth in recent years and, combined with a changing trade structure, China's direct vulnerability to potential trade shocks has declined," Moody's said in a report.

Last week, Washington threatened China with tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods aimed at making Beijing address what the U.S. calls deeply entrenched theft of U.S. intellectual property and forced technology transfers from its companies.

“The currently implemented U.S. trade measures will impact only a relatively small portion of Chinese exports to the U.S., and we expect them to have a direct but contained effect on China’s economy,” Moody’s said.

Fitch said a full-blown trade war between the countries can create risks for corporations in the Asia Pacific region, Fitch said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has been critical of China’s trade policies, criticizing China on Monday for maintaining 25 percent auto import tariffs compared to the United States’ 2.5 percent duties, calling such a relationship with China not free trade but “stupid trade”.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier