Trade Wars: Trump loads first volley against China

China flag and the U.S. Stars and Stripes fly on a lamp post Pennsylvania in Washington

China on Friday accused the United States of starting the "biggest trade war in economic history" as U.S. tariffs took effect on Chinese goods worth $34 billion.

"If the United States starts imposing additional tariffs, it will actually be charging taxes on firms both in China and around the world, as well as American companies", Feng, said at a news conference in China.

China has sought the moral high ground during the increasingly bitter build up to the trade war by positioning itself as a champion of free trade but state media has now ramped up the rhetoric against the US President.

"In order to defend the core interests of the country and the interests of the people, we are forced to retaliate", the Chinese Commerce Ministry said in a statement.

China's tariffs on hundreds of USA goods include top exports such as soybeans, sorghum and cotton, threatening U.S. farmers in states that backed Trump in the 2016 USA election, such as Texas and Iowa.

The Commerce Ministry statement didn't provide details on its retaliation.

Ford said it encouraged Washington and Beijing to resolve their issues over trade and that it would "continue to monitor the situation as it evolves".

The tariffs mark some of the first material movements toward a trade war between the world's largest economies.

The big question is how far the hostilities between Washington and Beijing will go.

Trump confirmed that the United States would begin collecting tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods at 12:01 a.m. (0401 GMT) on Friday and warned that subsequent rounds could exceed $500 billion - roughly the amount that the United States imported from China a year ago.

Longer term though a trade war posed a risk to the recovery of the whole global economy, he said.

In April, Beijing vowed to retaliate by placing matching tariffs on USA goods worth roughly $50 billion.




The agency said yesterday that tariffs on United States products will take effect immediately after USA tariffs on Chinese goods kick in. "So we have 50 plus 200 plus nearly 300", Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One.

The Chinese government said that it was "forced to counterattack" against United States punitive tariffs on its imports, which went into effect early on Friday.

That would bring the total of targeted Chinese goods to potentially $550 billion - more than the $506 billion in goods that China shipped to the United States previous year.

The Trump administration drafted its initial tariff list to spare consumers, and numerous products that American families purchase from China, like flat-screen TVs and shoes, are not directly hit on Friday.

Trump said in March that trade wars are good and easy to win.

U.S. carmaker Ford Motor Co said on Thursday it has no plans to hike retail prices of its imported Ford and Lincoln models in China, despite the steep additional tariffs on imported USA vehicles set to come into play on Friday. But after three rounds of negotiations between the two sides, including a Chinese pledge to significantly increase purchases of American products, Trump made a decision to go ahead with the tariffs.

"China, which is in the crosshairs of the Trump administration's racketeering gun sights, has no choice but to fight back". USA soybean farmers have been particularly concerned, and the price of soybeans has plunged 17 percent over the past month on tariff fears.

The comments come a day before Washington and Beijing plan to implement tariffs against each others' goods in an escalating trade conflict that has rippled out to financial markets. "It's very hard to see this happening in the current environment".

A commodities trader in eastern Shandong province was told by customs at a major northern port that they have slowed the clearance of goods from the United States on Beijing's list.

The United States is "opening fire" on the world with its threatened tariffs, China warned on Thursday, saying no one wants a trade war but it will respond the instant US measures go into effect, as Beijing ramped up the rhetoric in the heated dispute.

The two giant economies appear ready to see which side can endure the most pain.

The port of Shanghai had put on hold clearing some USA imports through customs, said an official at a company in the coastal city, which handles customs clearance for importers.

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