Shots fired as U.S.-China tariffs take effect in deepening trade row
U.S. tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese imports took effect as a deadline passed on Friday, and with Beijing having vowed to respond immediately in kind, the world’s two biggest economies took a high-stakes turn toward all-out trade conflict.
China’s commerce ministry said in a statement shortly after the deadline passed that it was forced to retaliate, meaning $34 billion worth of imported U.S. goods including autos and agricultural products also faced 25 percent tariffs.
“China promised to not fire the first shot, but to defend national core interests and the interests of the people it has no choice but to strike back as necessary,” the Commerce Ministry said in a statement.
The ministry called the U.S. actions “a violation of world trade rules” and said that it had “initiated the largest-scale trade war in economic history.”
On Thursday, Trump warned that the United States may ultimately target over $500 billion worth of Chinese goods, or roughly the total amount that the United States imported from China last year.
Chinese shares, which have been battered in the run-up to the tariff deadline, were down in choppy trade but recovered from earlier lows, while the yuan currency also weakened. Asian equities wobbled amid nervous trading.
“We can probably say that the trade war has officially started,” said Chen Feixiang, professor of applied economics at Shanghai Jiaotong University’s Antai Colege of Economics and Management.
“If this ends at $34 billion, it will have a marginal effect on both economies, but if it escalates to $500 billion like Trump said then it’s going to have a big impact for both countries,” Chen said.