BEIJING,. The United States and China are set to impose new tit-for-tat tariffs against each other’s goods today, the latest escalation in a heated trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
US tariffs on US$200 billion (RM827 billion) worth of Chinese goods and retaliatory tariffs by Beijing on US$60 billion worth of US products are scheduled take effect at 0401 GMT. The two countries already exchanged tit-for-tat tariffs on US$50 billion worth of each other’s goods earlier this year.
Though a senior White House official last week said the United States will continue to engage China for a “positive way forward,” neither side has signalled willingness to compromise.
Economists warn that a protracted dispute will eventually stunt growth not just US and China but across the broader global economy. Worries about the confrontation have already rattled financial markets.
The trade tensions have also cast a pall over relations between Beijing and Washington, with the two sides already butting heads on a growing list of issues.
China summoned the US ambassador in Beijing and postponed joint military talks in protest against a US decision to sanction a Chinese military agency and its director for buying Russian fighter jets and a surface-to-air missile system.
It is unclear when the two sides will resume trade negotiations. Talks in Washington last month produced no meaningful progress, and the latest tariffs have cast doubts on whether Beijing would still accept US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s invitation for senior Chinese officials to visit Washington for more talks this month.
China’s commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng did not comment on whether China would send a delegation when asked about the matter during a regular weekly briefing last Thursday. The US official on Friday said there was no date set for next round of talks, and the Wall Street Journal reported China has decided not to send a trade delegation this month.
Some media reports earlier this month said China had considered sending Vice Premier Liu He — who is President Xi Jinping’s top economic policy adviser — at end-September before the US announced its new tariffs.
Trump on Saturday reiterated a threat to impose further tariffs on Chinese goods should Beijing retaliate, in line with his previous comments signalling that Washington may move to impose tariffs on virtually all imported Chinese goods if the administration does not get its way.
China imports far less from the United States, making a dollar-for-dollar match on any new US tariffs impossible.
Instead, it has warned of “qualitative” measures to retaliate. Though Beijing has not revealed what such steps might be, business executives and analysts say China could withhold exports of certain products to the US or create more administrative red tape for American companies. — Reuters