Trade war: Trump more than doubles tariffs on $200bn of Chinese goods amid rising tensions

Beijing says it ‘deeply regrets’ rise to 25% and would respond in kind

Harry Cockburn
Friday 10 May 2019 09:33 BST
A port in Lianyungang in China's eastern Jiangsu province
A port in Lianyungang in China's eastern Jiangsu province (AFP/Getty)

Donald Trump has turned the dial up on his trade war with China, more than doubling tariffs on more than $200bn (£153bn) worth of Chinese goods.

Affected goods will see tariffs rise to 25 per cent, up from 10 per cent, despite the countries recently appearing to be close to resolving trade issues.

Beijing has said it “deeply regrets” the move, and China’s Commerce Ministry said it would respond by imposing “necessary countermeasures” but did not detail what these would be.

The tax hike came after American and Chinese negotiators began a new round of talks in Washington aimed at ending a dispute that has disrupted billions of dollars in trade and shaken global financial markets.

American officials have accused Beijing of backtracking on commitments made in earlier rounds of negotiations, though exactly what this means is unclear. Mr Trump told a rally ahead of the negotiations China had “broke the deal”, and would suffer the consequences.

The talks are due to resume on Friday after ending on Thursday evening with no word on progress.

“China deeply regrets that it will have to take necessary countermeasures,” the country’s Commerce Ministry said in a statement.

“It is hoped that the US and the Chinese sides will work together ... to resolve existing problems through cooperation and consultation,” it added.

But the president has hinted things could get worse still. Over the weekend Mr Trump said he could even expand tariffs to apply to all Chinese goods shipped to the United States.

Beijing has previously responded to US tariff hikes by raising duties on $110bn (£85bn) of American imports. But Chinese authorities are now running out of US goods to apply higher rates to, due to the uneven trade balance.

Chinese officials have also targeted American companies in China by slowing customs clearance for their goods and by increasing regulatory scrutiny which can hamper their activities.

The higher rate of import taxes will not apply to Chinese goods shipped before Friday.

Shipments across the Pacific take about three weeks, which gives negotiators some more time to reach a settlement before importers may be hit with the increased charges.

The surprise announcement of the tax hike came after negotiating teams from China and the US met on Thursday evening in Washington.

After briefing Mr Trump on the state of the negotiations, US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin dined with the leader of the Chinese delegation, vice premier Liu He.

Mr Liu, speaking to Chinese state TV, said he “came with sincerity”, but appealed to the Trump administration not to impose further tariff hikes, saying they were “not a solution” and would harm the world.

“We should not hurt innocent people,” Mr Liu said.

At the White House, Mr Trump had said earlier on Thursday he had received “a beautiful letter” from Chinese President Xi Jinping and would “probably speak to him by phone”.

The tariff hike was described as the greatest “threat to world growth”, by French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who said it could threaten jobs across Europe.

“There is no greater threat to world growth,” Le Maire told French TV channel CNews. “It would mean that trade tariffs go up, fewer goods would circulate around the world ... and jobs in France and in Europe would be destroyed.”

Additional reporting by AP and Reuters

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in