U.S. threatens to impose fresh tariffs on China


It will target goods worth $200 billion in September

The United States has escalated a trade war with China, threatening to impose fresh tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese goods as soon as September, sparking a furious reaction in Beijing.

The latest shot in a spiralling trade conflict between the world’s top two economies came just days after tit-for-tat tariffs on $34 billion in goods came into effect.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer late on Tuesday accused China of retaliating to its tariffs “without any international legal basis or justification”.

Trump’s order

President Donald Trump has therefore ordered the trade department to “begin the process of imposing tariffs of 10% on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports”, Mr. Lighthizer said in a statement.

Officials will hold hearings in late August on the list of targeted products and an administration official said it would take about two months to finalise, at which point Mr. Trump would decide whether to go ahead with the levies.

The eventual goal is to impose tariffs on 40% of Chinese imports, the same proportion of U.S. goods hit by Beijing’s retaliation, an official told reporters.

‘Typical bullying’

China’s Commerce Ministry said on Wednesday that it was “shocked” and would complain to the World Trade Organisation, but did not immediately say how it would retaliate. In a statement, it called the U.S. actions “completely unacceptable”.

The Foreign Ministry described Washington’s threats as ”typical bullying” and said China needed to counter attack to protect its interests. “This is a fight between unilateralism and multilateralism, protectionism and free trade, might and rules,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing on Wednesday.