Published: Sat, April 07, 2018
Technology | By Russell Knight

Trade fight mounts as Trump threatens $100 billion more in China tariffs

Trade fight mounts as Trump threatens $100 billion more in China tariffs

"It is time to wake up - we are being marched into a trade war, and the losers will be American workers, American consumers and the American economy", the organization said in a statement.

While US officials said they were prepared to talk the issues through with China, there was no clear path to communication.

President Donald Trump on Thursday night asked the USA trade representative to consider slapping tariffs on another $100 billion worth of products from China on top of the $50 billion in duties proposed earlier this week.

China announces it will impose additional tariffs of 25% on 106 USA goods including soybeans, autos, chemicals, some types of aircraft and corn products and other agricultural goods.

Mr Trump's chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow and other administration officials have spent the past two days trying to tamp down fears of a trade war.

While Beijing calls Washington the aggressor and says it is spurring global protectionism, China's trading partners have complained for years that it abuses World Trade Organisation rules and propagates unfair policies that lock foreign firms out of some sectors. They calmed down on Wednesday and Thursday on hopes the two would find a diplomatic solution but slid on Friday after Beijing said it would fight the Trump administration's latest threats.

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Late on Thursday, Trump instructed the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the agency responsible for developing and recommending trade policy, to consider imposing an extra $100bn of import tariffs on Chinese goods arriving in the US.

He's also instructed his secretary of agriculture "to implement a plan to protect our farmers and agricultural interests".

"Rather than remedy its misconduct, China has chosen to harm our farmers and manufacturers", Trump added.

On Wednesday, China unveiled a list of 106 USA goods including soybeans, whiskey, frozen beef and aircraft targeted for tariffs, just hours after the Trump administration proposed duties on some 1,300 Chinese industrial, technology, transport and medical products.

The move comes a day after China issued a $50 billion list of US goods including soybeans and small aircraft for possible tariff hikes in an escalating and potentially damaging dispute.

Mr. Trump on Friday reposted a tweet he'd published earlier denying that the in a trade war with China, asserting that such a conflict "was lost many year ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S".

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USA trade representative Robert Lighthizer called China's move "unjustified" and said Mr Trump's proposal was an "appropriate response to China's recent threat of new tariffs".

The National Retail Federation, an industry group, said in a statement that while it agreed on the need to address China's unfair trade practices, "these tit-for-tat trade actions could ... make it harder for Americans across the country to afford everyday products and basic necessities".

The White House said in a statement Thursday night that Trump was considering adding tariffs on $100 billion more in Chinese goods annually.

The move threatens to unravel efforts by top USA and Chinese trade officials to lower the heat and reach an agreement that could stave off an escalating conflict. Already, the tensions have rattled global stock markets. Trump tweeted that China gets "tremendous perks and advantages" at the World Trade Organisation because it is considered a developing nation.

The next step in the process may be for US negotiators to give a list of "suggestions" to their Chinese counterparts in an effort to settle ongoing disputes, Kudlow said.

Trump said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would identify which new products may be subject to tariffs. Trump has demanded that China cut the trade gap by $100 billion.

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United States stock futures dropped on Mr Trump's latest trade directive. "The first tariffs targeting $50 billion in goods was sold as placing a minimal burden on American families".

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