US threatens import tariffs on another US$200b of Chinese goods

WASHINGTON/BEIJING: The United States and China have fired the next shots in their escalating trade war, with Washington threatening to impose fresh tariffs on another US$200 billion (RM806 billion) in Chinese goods and Beijing vowing to retaliate.

The latest moves in the ballooning trade conflict between the world's top two economies came just days after tit-for-tat duties on US$34 billion in goods came into effect.

Analysts have warned that spiralling trade tensions between the two powerhouses could have a damaging impact on the global economy and far-reaching consequences across the planet.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer late Tuesday accused China of retaliating to its tariffs "without any international legal basis or justification".

President Donald Trump has therefore ordered the trade department to "begin the process of imposing tariffs of 10% on an additional US$200 billion of Chinese imports", 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 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 US goods hit by Beijing's retaliation, an official told reporters.
If the measures are imposed, it would mean new taxes on thousands of products from fish to chemicals, metals and tyres.

Reacting to the "totally unacceptable" US list, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said it would be forced to take "countermeasures".

"The behaviour of the US is hurting China, hurting the world, and hurting itself," the ministry said, adding that it was "shocked" by the US actions.

"In order to safeguard the core interests of the country and the fundamental interests of the people, the Chinese government as always will have no choice but to take the necessary countermeasures," it said.

Beijing said it would "immediately" tack on the case to its suit against Washington's "unilateralist" behaviour at the World Trade Organisation. – AFP