Donald Trump threatens China with additional $100bn tariffs
Washington: US President Donald Trump has said he is considering slapping an additional $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, moving the world's two largest economies closer to an open trade brawl.
Trump on late Thursday said that he was responding to "unfair retaliation" by China, which published a list on Wednesday of $50 billion in American products that would be hit by tariffs, including soybeans and pork. That move was a direct reaction to the tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods that the White House detailed on Tuesday, the US media reported.
China's Ministry of Commerce responded, saying Beijing would "not hesitate to pay any price" to defend its interests. "We don't want a trade war, but we are not afraid of such a war," it said.
The US President in his announcement said: "In light of China's unfair retaliation, I have instructed the US Trade Representative (USTR) to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate.
"Rather than remedy its misconduct, China has chosen to harm our farmers and manufacturers," Trump's statement said. The President added that he instructed to the USTR also to "identify the products upon which to impose" the additional tariffs.
Amid the ongoing row, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said: "China and the US as two world powers should treat each other on a basis of equality and with respect. By waving a big stick of trade sanctions against China, the US has picked a wrong target."
The announcement came one day after some of Trump's advisers tried to calm markets and tamp down fears of a trade war between the two countries, saying that the tariff threats were the first step in a negotiation process, the New York Times reported.
Trump said the potential for new tariffs would not preclude discussions with the Chinese "to protect the technology and intellectual property of American companies and American people".
The stock market was closed when the White House released Trump's statement about the additional tariffs, but Wall Street futured pointed lower for Friday trading. Markets in mainland China were closed for a holiday. Asia-Pacific markets largely shrugged off the news. European exchanges were down slightly.
The row started with the US President imposing tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminium in March, which also prompted a response from China.
Trump's latest threat was met with criticism from members of his own Republican party. Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse called the move "the dumbest possible way to do this".
"Hopefully the President is just blowing off steam again but, if he's even half-serious, this is nuts... He's threatening to light American agriculture on fire," Sasse added.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to give a major speech on Tuesday at the Bo'ao Forum on the Chinese island of Hainan, which may give more clues to China's response.