The United States of America will further increase existing tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports from 25% to 30%, with another $300 billion in goods threatened to see a similar fate. The move comes as the country's volatile president Donald Trump goes on a Twitter rampage accusing China of stealing money and "orders" US firms to sever ties with China.
The 5% hike on the first batch of imports is slated to take effect from October 1, while Trump says he may add another 5% to a planned 10% tariff on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese goods that is set to kick in September 1.
The move came after the Chinese finance ministry announced Friday it would enforce additional tariffs of 10% and 5% on $75 billion worth of US goods in two batches, starting September 1 and December 15. Beijing said it was "forced to take countermeasures" in response to the US government's move to impose the 10% tariff on $300 billion of Chinese imports that were to take place from the two dates.
The Chinese ministry said the US had continuously escalated Sino-US economic and trade frictions, harming the interests of both countries and global markets, as well as threatening multilateral trading systems and free trade. Urging the benefits of cooperation, the Chinese government reiterated that it was compelled to enforce tariffs as a way to deal with the US government's unilateralism and trade protectionism.
Meanwhile, Trump told US reporters Friday night that the country was having "a little spat" with China that he planned to win. "We put a lot of tariffs on China today, as you know. They put some on us, we put a lot on them. We're up to about $550 billion...they've been hitting us for many, many years for over $500 billion a year. So we want that stopped."
In a Twitter storm earlier, the US head of state expressed belief his country would thrive without trade relations with the Chinese. "We don't need China and, frankly, would be far better off without them. The vast amounts of money made and stolen by China from the US, year after year, for decades, will and must stop.
"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 said.
The US Chamber of Commerce, however, called for all parties to work to resolve the dispute. Its executive vice president and head of international affairs, Myron Brilliant, said in a statement: "Nobody wins a trade war and the continued tit-for-tat escalation between the US and China is putting significant strain on the US economy, raising costs, undermining investment, and roiling markets. It's time to get back to the table and complete an agreement that deals with the thorny issues of tech transfer, intellectual property enforcement, market access, and the damaging global impact of subsidies."
Following Trump's move to raise tariffs, Brilliant issued another statement urging for "constructive engagement" and stressing the urgency of reaching a resolution.
Noting that the US business community had, for many years, highlighted the lack of progress in addressing China's "unfair trade practices", he said the Chamber had invested efforts in resolving these challenges through negotiation and encouraging tough action by the government.
Brilliant added: "Despite our concerns, the 40-year old trade relationship between our two countries has been for the most part productive, constructive, and mutually beneficial. US companies have been ambassadors for positive changes to the Chinese economy that continue to benefit both our people.
"We do not want to see a further deterioration of US-China relations," he said.
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