President Donald Trump instructed the US trade representative to consider slapping an additional $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods on Thursday in a dramatic escalation of the trade dispute between the two countries.
Trump’s surprise move came a day after Beijing announced plans to tax $50 billion in American products, including soybeans and small aircraft, in response to a US move this week to slap tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports.
And it intensified what was already shaping up to be the biggest trade battle since World War II. Global financial markets had fallen sharply as the world’s two biggest economies squared off over Beijing’s aggressive trade tactics. But they had calmed down Wednesday and Thursday on hopes the US and China would find a diplomatic solution.
Illicit trade practices
Instead, the White House announced after the markets closed Thursday that Trump had instructed the Office of the United States Trade Representative to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate and, if so, to identify which products they should apply to. He’s also instructed his secretary of agriculture “to implement a plan to protect our farmers and agricultural interests.”
“China’s illicit trade practices — ignored for years by Washington — have destroyed thousands of American factories and millions of American jobs,” Trump said in a statement announcing the decision.
The latest escalation comes after the US on Tuesday said it would impose 25 percent duties on $50 billion of imports from China, and China quickly retaliated by listing $50 billion of products that it could hit with its own 25 percent tariffs. The Chinese list Wednesday included soybeans, the biggest US export to China, and aircraft up to 45 tons (41 metric tons) in weight. Also on the list were American beef, whiskey, passenger vehicles and industrial chemicals.
Meanwhile, China said Friday it is ready to pay “any cost” in a trade war after US President Donald Trump threatened an additional $100 billion in tit-for-tat tariffs on Beijing.
“If the US side disregards opposition from China and the international community and insists on carrying out unilateralism and trade protectionism, the Chinese side will take them on until the end at any cost,” the commerce ministry said in a statement on its website.
“We don’t want a trade war but we aren’t afraid of fighting one.”
The US on Tuesday published a list of $50 billion in Chinese exports set to be hit by US tariffs because of Beijing’s alleged theft of intellectual property and technology.
China retaliated Wednesday by announcing plans to impose levies on $50 billion worth of major US exports such as soybeans, cars and small aircraft.
Earlier in the week, Beijing announced separate import duties on $3 billion of US goods in response to the Trump administration’s duties on all steel and aluminum imports, including from China.
– With AFP.