China Says U.S. Has Started ‘Biggest Trade War’ in History

US plans to go ahead with tariffs on $34 billion of imports from China on Friday

US plans to go ahead with tariffs on $34 billion of imports from China on Friday

China says USA tariffs on Chinese goods will hit global supply chains as Washington's new duties are expected to take effect at midnight Thursday.

The US will levy a 25 percent tariff on more than 800 Chinese product categories worth around $34 billion and has warned of more to come if China retaliates.

The Trump administration contends that China has deployed predatory tactics in a push to overtake U.S. technological dominance.

Washington-based think tank the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) expects USA tariffs on Chinese goods, which it says particularly target computers and electronics, to hurt multinationals more than China as well as other firms in Asia. Analysts say it can resort to some unconventional methods to inconvenience American businesses in China, with some fearing that it could mean tougher and subjective scrutiny on companies such as Starbucks and Apple, taking the trade war to uncharted territory.

China lowered commitments to buy 366,000 metric tons of US soybeans in the season that ends August 31 and cut purchases by 66,000 tons in the following year.

Replacing American shipments with coal from other places would not be hard for China, but a loss of business with the world's top importer of the fuel would hurt companies in West Virginia, a state that heavily favored Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

The ministry called the USA actions "a violation of world trade rules" and said that it had "initiated the largest-scale trade war in economic history".

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"So we have 50 plus 200 plus nearly 300", Trump said, adding "It's only on China".

Washington increased tariffs at 12:01am on $US34 billion worth of Chinese imports, a first step in what could become an accelerating series of tariffs.

Trump has vowed for years to tackle Chinese trade practices, accusing Beijing of stealing USA intellectual property and slammed the $375 billion US trade deficit with the country.

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

Beijing's response came within minutes as it imposed a series of levies on a similar quantity of USA imports.

The new tariffs had little impact on Asian stock markets.

Beijing has accused the USA of starting the "largest trade war in economic history". "We will work with other countries around the world to jointly safeguard free trade and the multilateral system". "And students could pay more for the mini-refrigerator they need in their dorm room as they head back to college this fall a strategy based on unilateral tariffs is the wrong approach, and it has to stop". The Communist Party newspaper People's Daily said tariffs were imposed on a list of goods issued last month that included soybeans, pork and electric vehicles. "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".

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"Clearly the first salvos have been exchanged and in that sense, the trade war has started".

Of the $34 billion of Chinese goods targeted by the U.S., around 59%, or $20 billion, is produced by foreign-owned companies, including some from the U.S., Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said Thursday.

About 800 Chinese products, from boilers to industrial robots and cars, will have a 25% tariff imposed when imported into the US.

US companies had US$256 billion in investment in China by the end of previous year, exceeding China's US$140 billion in the United States, according to a report by the National Committee of US-China Relations and Rhodium Group in April.

The Commerce Ministry said Trump "ignited the biggest trade war in economic history".

"While our 900 member companies continue to suffer from not having a level playing field in China, they are still extremely clear: Increased tensions in the U.S".

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

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Local trade consultant Stephen Jacobi said he was hopeful that in the short term the dispute wouldn't a direct impact in New Zealand exports which (other than some steel products) were not in the firing line. Officials in Beijing reject accusations of theft and say foreign companies have no obligation to hand over technology.

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