Trump threatens China with more than $500bn in United States trade tariffs

Marco Green
July 6, 2018

Even though the measures and counter-measures announced so far by the United States, the European Union and China - plus Mexico and Canada as America's NAFTA trade deal partners - would double bilateral tariffs and take USA duties to their highest levels in 50 years, their impact was unlikely to be major, Carney said.

It is the first time the U.S. has imposed tariffs directly aimed at Chinese goods, following months in which Trump has accused Beijing of stealing American intellectual property and unfairly swelling America's trade deficit. Americans worry that rising Chinese technological prowess might erode US industrial leadership and prosperity.

Beijing had said it would retaliate with punitive measures on US products worth a similar amount, including soybeans, pork and cotton, but it had not officially confirmed on Friday that they had taken effect.

Asked whether US companies would be targeted with "qualitative measures" in China in a trade war, Gao said the government would protect the legal rights of all foreign companies in the country.

"China will never fire the first shot", Gao said.

"We do not want to fight it, but in order to safeguard the interests of the country and the people, we have no choice but to fight", said China´s commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng.

China's commerce ministry called the U.S. actions "a violation of world trade rules" and said that it had "initiated the largest-scale trade war in economic history". American officials worry US industrial leadership will be eroded by Chinese plans to create tech champions in fields including robotics, biotech and artificial intelligence.

The two countries have engaged increasingly in verbal sparring in recent months, but Friday's pair of haymakers has dramatically escalated the trade dispute - and that has investors across the world worries about what comes next. The main Chinese stock market index has tumbled 12 per cent over the past month.

Chinese exporters of tools, lighting and appliances say USA orders have shrunk as customers wait to see what will happen to prices. "To put it simply, the United States is firing at the whole world".

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a notice it would begin collecting the 25 percent duties on 818 product lines identified in June by the U.S. Trade Representative's Office.

"There is a chance the company will lose money and might go bankrupt", said Tong.

China's ruling Communist Party has insisted on making changes at its own pace while sticking to state-directed technology development seen as the path to prosperity and global influence.

The tariffs will hurt the American high-tech companies that Trump is trying to protect from intellectual property theft as it becomes increasingly hard for those companies to do business in China, she said.

Chinese officials reject accusations they steal or force foreign companies to hand over technology. Beijing has announced reforms this year including ending limits on foreign ownership in its auto industry, but none directly addresses complaints that are fueling its conflict with Washington.

According to propaganda instructions leaked to China Digital Times, news organisations were ordered "to prepare well for protracted conflict".

The bank estimates that every $US100b of imports affected by the tariffs represents about 0.5 percent of global trade and 0.1 percent of global GDP.

"I think products made in China are the best", said one shopper in a Beijing grocery story, who gave his name as Yang.

The Chinese government previously said that it will impose tariffs of equal size on USA goods as retaliation and reiterated that retaliation would come soon.

AP researcher Yu Bing in Beijing contributed.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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