Trump escalates China trade war, threatens tariffs worth $200bn

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Washington, June 19 (IANS) US President Donald Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods shipped to Washington unless Beijing agrees to a host of sweeping trade concessions, media reports said.

In a statement on Monday, Trump said he had US Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, to draw up a list of $200 billion in Chinese products that will be hit with tariffs of 10 per cent if China refuses his demands to narrow the yawning American trade deficit and change its industrial policies, reports The Washington Post.

“The trade relationship between the US and China must be much more equitable. The US will no longer be taken advantage of on trade by China and other countries in the world,” Trump said.

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“Further action must be taken to encourage China to change its unfair practices, open its market to US goods, and accept a more balanced trade relationship with the US,” he added.

In a statement published shortly after Trump’s announcement, China’s Ministry of Commerce called the move “blackmail” and accused the US of “extreme pressure and extortionist behaviour”.

“If the US loses its senses and comes up with a new list, China will be forced to strike back hard and launch comprehensive measures that match the US move in quantity and quality,” it said.

The tariffs, which the US government says are punishment for intellectual property theft, will be enacted in two phases, reports CNN.

More than 800 exports, about $34 billion worth, will be subject to tariffs starting July 6.

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Another 280 or so still need to undergo a public comment period, and will take effect later.

On June 15, Trump imposed tariffs of 25 per cent on $50 billion in Chinese imports, The Washington Post reported.

China immediately hit back with tariffs on $50 billion in American products, including agricultural goods.

However, none of the tariffs announced on Monday will take effect until industries and consumers have a chance to make their views known in a 60-day public comment period.

The tariffs if implemented, would dramatically expand the goods facing trade measures to a range of consumer items, forcing Americans to pay more for smartphones, computers, toys, televisions and just about every other middle-class staple.

–IANS

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