Trade war Round 2? USA threatens new tariffs on China

Washington has made a decision to slap additional tariffs on 200 billion dollars worth of Chinese imports, as trade tensions escalate between China and the United States.

The United States is preparing 10 per cent tariffs on more than 6,000 Chinese products, from air conditioning units and antiques to toilet paper and truffles.

The US administration late on Tuesday released a huge list of new products that tariffs on $US200 billion worth of goods from China will be levied against.

The move is a major escalation in a brewing trade war between the world's two largest economies.

US President Donald Trump ordered his government to prepare tariffs on a further US$200bn of imports from China on Monday.

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All told, Trump has threatened eventually to slap tariffs on up to $550 billion in Chinese imports - more than China actually exported to the United States past year - if Beijing won't relent to USA pressure and continues to retaliate.

But China also faces difficulties in retaliating directly: it ships far more goods to the United States ($506 billion a year ago, according to USA figures) than come back in the opposite direction ($130 billion).

"Rather than address our legitimate concerns, China has begun to retaliate against USA products", Lighthizer said in a statement.

US Senate Finance Committe chairman Orrin Hatch labelled the move as "reckless", while the US retail industry leaders assocation immediately condemned the move, saying the "the President has broken his promise". They are meant to put pressure on China to stop stealing USA companies' trade secrets and forcing them to hand over intellectual property to Chinese firms as a condition of doing business there.

China could also limit visits to the United States by Chinese tourists, a business state media said is worth $115 billion, or shed some of its U.S. Treasury holdings, Iris Pang, Greater China economist at ING in Hong Kong, wrote in a note.

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In its policy agenda released in January, the U.S. trade office said the WTO needed to change its "self-declared" policy for developing nations to stop major economies like China and India from getting the preferential treatment that should be reserved for the world's poorest nations.

The tariffs will not be imposed until after a two-month period of public comment on the proposed list.

Instead, if Trump wants to solve the issue, he needs to "call up the Fed and tell them, 'Let interest rates find the right level, ' and we'll begin to adjust this problem over time", Stockman said.

He said the administration should get back to the negotiating table with China.

European stock markets are expected to follow Asia's lead, as economics warn that a trade war would cause serious economic harm.

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