Barely 24 hours after the US hit China with new tariffs on imports, Beijing fired a return salvo Saturday in a growing trade dispute with President Donald Trump by imposing duties on a $34 billion list of USA goods ranging from soybeans to whiskey to cigars.
The announcement caps months of sometimes fraught shuttle diplomacy between Washington and Beijing, in which Chinese offers to purchase more US goods failed to assuage Trump's grievances over the soaring US-China trade imbalance and Beijing's industrial development policies.
China accused the United States of firing the first shot on Friday when the White House said that it would impose tariffs of 25% on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.
The Post reported that the president said the US would "pursue additional tariffs", raising the specter of a tit-for-tat trade war that business leaders and many congressional Republicans fear. According to the Post report: "It took little more than an hour for the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing to fire back at the president with a late-night statement pledging to erect trade barriers of the "same scale and the same strength".
China's Ministry of Commerce said the decision to impose tariffs meant "all previously agreed trade negotiation results are no longer valid".
President Donald Trump has vowed to clamp down on what he calls China's unfair trade practices.
China retaliated, saying it would impose an additional 25% tariff on 659 USA goods worth $50bn.
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The announcement could have major ramifications for the US seafood industry and for the economy of the state of ME, which is home to most of the country's lobster fishery.
Some companies that source materials from China could eventually look for suppliers in other Asian countries with low labor costs including Vietnam, the Philippines and Bangladesh, but many will take a wait-and-see approach because it takes times to rewire supply chains, said Erik Lundh, an economist specializing in China for The Conference Board, a major business group.
"China does not want a trade war", it said, adding that it would "fight back vigorously" in defense of its national interests, globalization and the world trade system.
Like the USA tariffs, China's retaliatory tariffs will be rolled out in two waves, the Finance Ministry said. Hope grew that the USA would accept a modest increase in purchases by China of American products.
The US president said the new tariffs were created to punish China for the theft of American intellectual property and technology.
"The United States can no longer tolerate losing our technology and intellectual property through unfair economic practices", Trump said in the statement.
"In this trade war, it's the US who is playing the role of provocateur, while China plays defense", said the Global Times, a newspaper published by the ruling Communist Party.
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In a joint statement, the two countries had said that China would "significantly increase" purchases of USA farm and energy products to reduce the trade imbalance.
"We grow more than we can use [domestically]", said Blue Earth County corn and soybean farmer Kevin Paap, president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau. Mnuchin said so after China pledged to buy more from the USA, especially energy and agricultural products and to shrink America's gaping trade gap with China - $336 billion past year.
The reason for the 18 percent price hike, the dealer told him, was the tariff Trump applied to imported aluminum.
Initially, 545 U.S. products valued at $34 billion will be targeted, mimicking the tariff rollout by the Trump administration.
Tariffs on other United States goods will be announced at a later date, Xinhua said.
The Chinese Commerce Ministry says it will immediately impose penalties of "equal strength" on USA products. Critics say Trump gained little from his meeting this past week with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, though the outcome of that bargain is still up in the air.
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