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China launches $75 billion tariff hike

August 23, 2019

Although Washington postponed a new round of tariffs on Chinese exports, Beijing has targeted US cars, oil and food. President Donald Trump went on a Twitter tirade after the Chinese announcement.

US soybean harvest
Image: picture-alliance/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/J. B. Forbes

China on Friday ignored Washington's apparent pause in a yearlong trade dispute by threatening to impose tariffs on $75 billion (€67.4 billion) of US goods.

The country's Commerce Ministry said it would impose additional tariffs on a total of 5,078 American products including agricultural products, crude oil and small aircraft. Some of the tariffs will take effect on September 1, the others on December 15, it said.

A separate announcement threatened a 25% tariff on US autos and a 5% tariff on auto parts, also starting December 15.

Read more: US-China trade war — The unlikely European winners

Beijing's latest blow

The escalation comes despite Beijing's appeals to US President Donald Trump to reach a settlement in the ongoing trade spat, which has so far seen Washington slap tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods and China retaliate with duties on $110 billion worth of US imports. The two powers' lopsided trade balance means China is now running out of US imports on which to retaliate.

Trump slammed the Chinese move on Twitter and criticized US companies operating in China. 

"Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA," he wrote. 

 Trump last week delayed a threat to impose 10% tariffs on $156 billion of Chinese goods, partly in an attempt to ease tensions, but also as he seeks public support for a second term in the White House.

Read more: Can Trump prevent a US recession in election year?

The US president did, however, proceed with plans to raise tariffs on some Chinese goods from September 1, which likely prompted the latest tit-for-tat measures by Beijing.

China challenges US dominance

Trump is pressing Beijing to narrow its trade surplus and roll back plans for a massive state-led strategy to create global leaders in robotics, electric cars and other technology industries.

The spiraling conflict has battered exporters on both sides and fueled concern it might aid a global economic downturn.

Read more: Currency wars: Lose-lose the only certain outcome

After a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in July, Beijing offered to alter its plans, but talks are now deadlocked over how to enforce any deal.

China insists Trump's punitive tariffs have to be lifted immediately, while Washington is pushing for some to stay to ensure Beijing carries out any promises it makes.

Talks are set to resume in Washington next month.

cw,mm/aw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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