Trump threatens further $100bn in tariffs against China

Traders and financial professionals work ahead of the opening bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), April 5, 2018 in New York City

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The tit-for-tat moves have unsettled markets, but officials on both sides have also spoken out to soothe the volatility

US President Donald Trump has instructed officials to consider a further $100bn (£71.3bn) of tariffs against China, in an escalation of a tense trade stand-off.

These would be in addition to the $50bn worth of US tariffs already proposed on hundreds of Chinese imports.

The proposal comes after China retaliated to that by threatening tariffs on 106 key US products.

The tit-for-tat moves have unsettled global markets in recent weeks.

Last week Washington set out about 1,300 Chinese products it intended to hit with tariffs set at 25%. That followed an announcement earlier this year that the US would impose import taxes on aluminium and steel, which would include China.

The White House said the tariffs were a response to unfair Chinese intellectual property practices, such as those that pressure US companies to share technology with Chinese firms.

China responded swiftly and robustly by proposing tariffs on 106 key US products, including soybeans, aircraft parts and orange juice, narrowly aimed at politically important sectors in the US, such as agriculture.

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Soybeans are one of the key US exports China said it could target with tariffs

But in a statement on Thursday Mr Trump branded Beijing’s retaliation as “unfair”.

“Rather than remedy its misconduct, China has chosen to harm our farmers and manufacturers

“In light of China’s unfair retaliation, I have instructed the USTR (United States Trade Representative) to consider whether $100bn of additional tariffs would be appropriate under section 301 and, if so, to identify the products upon which to impose such tariffs,” Mr Trump said.

He said he had also instructed agricultural officials to implement a plan to protect US farmers and agricultural interests.

Meanwhile, China has initiated a complaint with the World Trade Organisation over the US tariffs, in what analysts say could be a sign that this will be a protracted process.

The WTO circulated the request for consultation to members on Thursday, launching a discussion period before the complaint heads to formal dispute settlement process.

  • 18.2% of all China’s exports go to the United States

  • $129bn worth of China-made electrical machinery bought by US

  • 59.2% growth in Chinese services imported by US between 2006 & 2016

  • $347bn US goods trade deficit with China

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