President Donald Trump threatened on Monday to impose a 10 percent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods, escalating a tit-for-tat trade war with Beijing.
In a statement, Trump said he had asked the U.S. trade representative to identify the Chinese products to be subject to the new tariffs. He said the move would be in retaliation for China’s decision to raise tariffs on $50 billion in U.S. goods.
“After the legal process is complete, these tariffs will go into effect if China refuses to change its practices, and also if it insists on going forward with the new tariffs that it has recently announced,” Trump said.
Washington and Beijing appeared increasingly headed toward open trade conflict after negotiations failed to resolve U.S. complaints over Chinese industrial policies, lack of market access in China and a $375 billion U.S. trade deficit.
On Friday, Trump said he was pushing ahead with a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese products, prompting Beijing to respond in kind.
The Chinese response clearly angered Trump.
“China apparently has no intention of changing its unfair practices related to the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology. Rather than altering those practices, it is now threatening United States companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong,” he said.
Trump said if China increases its tariffs again in response to the latest U.S. move, “we will meet that action by pursuing additional tariffs on another $200 billion of goods.”
Earlier Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed China’s trade practices as “predatory economics 101” and said statements by Beijing in recent weeks that it was moving to open its economy were “a joke.”
Pompeo said China’s theft of U.S. intellectual property “is at an unprecedented level of larceny” and he had raised the issue in talks last week with China’s President Xi Jingping.
Pompeo’s remarks to the Detroit Economic Club came as fears over a possible trade war between the world’s two largest economies weighed on stock markets.
China has long denied U.S. charges that Chinese firms have stolen ideas and software or forced firms to turn over intellectual property as part of the price of doing business in China.
Trump said last week he was pushing ahead with tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports, prompting a quick response from Beijing, which said it would put duties on several American commodities.
China said it would retaliate immediately by suspending previous trade agreements and slapping duties on American exports, including crude oil. China has risen to the top of the list of importers of oil from the United States.
Pompeo said excess Chinese steel and aluminum production had flooded the market and suppressed global prices for the metals, making it hard for American companies to compete.
“This is predatory economics 101, and many other countries have recognized this,” said Pompeo, “President Trump is now working to re-shift this balance.”
“Chinese leaders over these past few weeks have been claiming openness and globalization, but it’s a joke. Let’s be clear: It’s the most predatory economic government that operates against the rest of the world today. This is a problem that is long overdue in being tackled.” To critics of the Trump administration’s trade tariffs, Pompeo said: “Just ask yourself: Would China have allowed America to do to it what China has done to America?”
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