The United States has announced fresh tariffs on $200 billion (€171 billion) of Chinese goods, spooking markets anxious about an escalating tit-for-tat trade war between the world's largest economies.
The Chinese government may decline to participate in proposed trade talks with the United States later this month if the Trump administration moves forward with additional tariffs on imported Chinese goods, the Wall Street Journalreported on Sunday, citing Chinese officials.
Mr Trump said that the USA will immediately pursue additional tariffs on about $267 billion of Chinese imports if Beijing hits back to the US$200 billion round.
The US imported around US$500 billion worth of products from China past year, compared to US$130 billion in US goods imported by the Asian country.
Mr Trump has threatened to target all $500bn (£380bn) of Chinese imports unless Beijing agrees to sweeping changes to its intellectual property practices and what his administration alleges are unfair trade practices.
Unlike the previous rounds of tariffs - which targeted industrial goods - this tranche will affect consumer products and could lead to price rises for items such as air conditioners, spark plugs, furniture and lamps.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Tuesday the next step on holding "constructive negotiations" was up to China. "But, so far, China has been unwilling to change its practices", including theft and force transfer of technology.
The Trump administration in July and August already imposed 25% tariffs on $50bn on Chinese goods, sparking in-kind retaliation. Then last month, the escalating trade war moved up a gear when the United States brought in a 25 percent tax on a second wave of goods worth $16b.
In a letter to the U.S. trade representative, Dell, Cisco, Juniper Networks and Hewlett Packard Enterprise said that tariffs on of their networking equipment could hurt their bottom lines and lead to possible United States job losses.
Still, he added that "the uncertainty around the issue and the potential for additional tariffs is affecting the market, and we're beginning to see some of the economic activity in China starting to moderate as a result of that".
Beijing has retaliated in kind, but some analysts and American businesses are concerned it could resort to other measures such as pressuring US companies operating in China.
Smart watches and Bluetooth devices were removed from the tariff list, along with bicycle helmets, high chairs, children's auto seats, playpens and certain industrial chemicals.
Adam Posen, a leading trade expert and President of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said at a forum Monday that the tariff strategy is destined to fail, as it will not resolve trade disputes but will stifle US competitiveness and undermine consumption power of the USA working class.
In terms of the economy, President Trump has arguably tried to limit the damage to the U.S. by excluding some products and starting the tariff at 10%, but this will still put up costs that may well be passed onto consumers.
The firms are anxious the tariffs will increase their costs since many of their products are manufactured in China.
Trump has also complained about America's gaping trade deficit - $336 billion a year ago - with China, its biggest trading partner.
Chinese leaders are struggling to figure out how to respond to the threat, with reports this morning that China will decline to attend bilateral trade talks with the U.S. later this month.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce criticized the tariffs, saying Monday that the decision "makes clear that the administration did not heed the numerous warnings from American consumers and businesses".
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