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Trump threatens extra tariffs on US$200b of Chinese goods

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US President Donald Trump escalated a growing trade war with China by unveiling plans to impose 10 per cent tariffs on an additional US$200 billion worth of Chinese goods, reported Channel News Asia (Singapore).

With the world's two largest economies already engaged in a confrontation long feared by markets and industry, Trump said he was pushing forward with fresh punitive measures over Beijing's "unacceptable" move to raise its own tariffs.

"Further action must be taken to encourage China to change its unfair practices, open its market to United States goods and accept a more balanced trade relationship with the United States," Trump said in a statement.

The US leader warned that after the new measures are in place - on top of existing 25 per cent tariffs on US$50 billion in Chinese imports - tariffs on another US$200 billion of Chinese goods would go forward "if China increases its tariffs yet again."

"The trade relationship between the United States and China must be much more equitable," the president said in explaining his decision.

"I have an excellent relationship with President Xi (Jinping), and we will continue working together on many issues. But the United States will no longer be taken advantage of on trade by China and other countries in the world."

Trump had already warned last week of "additional tariffs" should Beijing hit back with tit-for-tat duties on American goods.

Then China followed suit, unveiling 25 per cent duties on US$50 billion in US imports - matching the US rates.

Trump moved forward with measures after months of sometimes fraught shuttle diplomacy in which Chinese offers to purchase more American goods failed to assuage his grievances over the soaring trade imbalance and China's aggressive industrial development policies.

And the China trade offensive is only one side of Trump's multi-front battle with all major US economic partners.

"China apparently has no intention of changing its unfair practices related to the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology," Trump said in a statement.

"Rather than altering those practices, it is now threatening United States companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong."

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China has vowed to retaliate with quantitative and qualitative measures if the United States goes ahead with its additional tariff plan against Beijing, reported South China Morning Post (Hong Kong).

The Ministry of Commerce said the new threat from US President Donald Trump of imposing tariffs on US$200 billion worth of Chinese products was an act of “blackmail”, which was against earlier agreements and disappointed the international community.

“If the US side loses sanity to launch the list, China will be forced to take comprehensive measures combining both quantitative and qualitative ones as a powerful hit-back,” the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

Trump announced a plan to target US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports with a 10 per cent punitive tariff, raising the stakes in Washington’s stand-off with Beijing over its trade and investment policies.

Trump’s new tariffs would be on top of a 25 per cent levy on Chinese imports announced on Friday and due to go into effect next month. The earlier move prompted Beijing to announce equivalent action on imports from the US, defying Trump’s warning that he would take stronger measures if China retaliated.

“China apparently has no intention of changing its unfair practices related to the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology,” Trump said in a White House announcement. “Rather than altering those practices, it is now threatening United States companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong.

“This latest action by China clearly indicates its determination to keep the United States at a permanent and unfair disadvantage, which is reflected in our massive US$376 billion trade imbalance in goods.”

Trump said he had directed US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to start drawing up a list of Chinese products to be covered by the 10 per cent levy. This phase of US tariffs would then be applied “if China refuses to change its practices, and also if it insists on going forward with the new tariffs that it has recently announced” on Friday.

If the 10 per cent tariffs went into effect and China retaliated with more measures, Trump would respond by identifying yet another US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports for extra tariffs, the White House said.

The escalating tariff measures appear to have undone attempts, through high-level talks in Washington and Beijing in recent weeks, to avert a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

The third such meeting, led by US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He, wound up on June 3 without any breakthroughs or agreements. Earlier rounds were led by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Liu He.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his counterpart Wang Yi remained far apart on trade and investment when the two met in Beijing last week. Pompeo warned that the trade deficit between the two countries was “still too high”, prompting Wang to caution against unilateral action and urged Washington to halt military help to Taiwan.

Back in the US, Pompeo hardened his rhetoric against China.

“We’re taking a really hard line on foreign practices that harm America. Whether that’s threatening our technology leadership through intellectual property theft or forced technology transfer, we are hard at ensuring that we protect American property,” Pompeo said.

“Everyone knows today that China is the main perpetrator. It’s at an unprecedented level of larceny. I was with President Xi on Thursday night. I reminded him that that’s not fair competition.

“Chinese actors also continue to conduct cyber activity, so they’re not just taking it by forced technology transfer or stealing it by way of contract, but committing outright theft. We have an enormous responsibility, each of us, to work to stop it.”

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Tags: u.s., China, trade war
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