Trump fires first salvo in trade war versus China

The European Union Mexico and Canada have all the hit U.S. with billions in retaliatory tariffs

The European Union Mexico and Canada have all the hit U.S. with billions in retaliatory tariffs

Chinese companies have started turning away from USA soybean suppliers and looking to other sources for agricultural products.

With just hours to go before the USA and China trigger billions in tariffs against each other, President Donald Trump is continuing the tough talk.

China accused the United States on Thursday of "opening fire" on the world with tariffs set to take effect on Friday, warning that it will respond the moment that duties on $34 billion in Chinese goods kick in.

After China announced its willingness to retaliate with a similar amount, Trump threatened tariffs of 10 percent on $400 billion more of Chinese products.

China has threatened to respond with tariffs on hundreds of USA goods, including top exports such as soybeans, sorghum and cotton, threatening US farmers in states that backed Trump in the 2016 USA election, such as Texas and Iowa.

Beijing has vowed to retaliate dollar-for-dollar, "immediately" imposing counter-tariffs on American exports in tit-for-tat measures, with experts warning the burgeoning conflict will send shockwaves around the global economy and strike at the heart of the world trading system.

Foreign companies accounted for $20 billion, or 59 percent, of the $34 billion of exports from China that would be subject to new USA tariffs, with US firms accounting for a significant part of that 59 percent, Gao said. Beijing said it would not hesitate to match those tariffs either.

"The US´s measures are essentially attacking the global supply and value chain". USA stocks edged higher on Thursday, however, amid hopes that American trade tensions with Europe may ease after comments from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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He said the better approach would be for the work "with our allies to form a common front to push China into a direction of reform that will open up its markets and allow more progress to open trade with China". But U.S. stocks edged higher on Thursday, lifted by technology shares, amid hopes that American trade tensions with Europe may ease after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would back a reduction of European auto tariffs if Washington abandons its threatened higher vehicle levies.

Association of Equipment Manufacturers President Dennis Slater warned that the back and forth between China and the United States would damage American manufacturing and lead to job losses.

Beijing has vowed to immediately respond with an equal amount of tariffs of its own against US autos, agricultural and other products, but it was unclear how swiftly the actions could escalate into an all-out trade war. "They also will drive up the cost of manufacturing in the US and risk numerous 1.3 million good-paying manufacturing jobs our industry supports".

Trump has taken an aggressive stance on trade, fulfilling a campaign promise.

"It's only China", he added. But in doing so he has alienated and angered longtime US allies, many of which have imposed duties on American goods in response to Trump's tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum. "Simply put, the United States is opening fire on the whole world, and also firing at itself", Gao said. "Consumers can expect to feel the pain in the coming months".

China and the United States have held talks about how to de-escalate the trade war, but no agreements were reached.

"If the USA implements tariffs, they will actually be adding tariffs on companies from all countries, including Chinese and United States companies", Gao said. These tactics include cyber-theft as well as requiring American companies to hand over technology in exchange for access to China's market.

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