US trade war with China intensifies as planned talks 'are axed' amid largest ever tariffs

Donald Trump is threatening to levy tariffs on over $500bn of Chinese products as tensions increase 

Chris Riotta
New York
Monday 24 September 2018 15:58
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Donald Trump says he's 'ready to go to 500' in tariff battle with China

The US has hit China with its largest round of tariffs yet in an escalating trade war, as planned talks between the two nations have reportedly been cancelled.

The Chinese government accused Donald Trump’s administration of "trade bullying practices" and "intimidating other countries through economic measures" after the US levied tariffs of 10 per cent on $200bn of Chinese products.

That spurred Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government to impose nearly $60bn in taxes on over 5,000 US imports, as well as reportedly axe trade talks that were previously planned between both nations.

Envoys for the two counties last met on 22 August in Washington but reported no progress.

Shares fell in Europe and Asia with the news. The latest round of tariffs arrived after $50bn worth were previously applied by both China and the US on each other’s products.

The latest Chinese tax increases would levy 10 per cent against products like coffee and liquefied natural gas, with other goods like frozen vegetables, chemical products and cocoa powder facing a 5 per cent levy.

China said the US spurred the "largest trade war in economic history" under Mr Trump, Xinhua news agency reported, as the US president threatened tariffs on all $505bn of Chinese imports.

"I’m ready to go to 500," Mr Trump told CNBC in July. "I'm not doing this for politics — I’m doing this to do the right thing for our country … We have been ripped off by China for a long time."

Confronting China over its trade practices was a major campaign promise for Mr Trump. But the president has faced scrutiny over his handling of the tit-for-tat tariff increases his administration started, when US Customs and Border Protection began collecting a 25 per cent tariff on $34bn of Chinese products.

The European Union has threatened to take action against the US if it were to levy tariffs against cars made internationally — a move the president has warned he would take while in office.

With no settlement in sight, forecasters say the conflict between the two biggest economies could trim global growth through 2020.

On Monday, the ratings agency Fitch cut its forecasts for next year's Chinese and global economic growth by 0.1 percentage points to 6.1 per cent and 3.1 per cent, respectively.

“The trade war is now a reality,” said Fitch's chief economist, Brian Coulton, in a report. “The downside risks to our global growth forecasts have also increased.”

Associated Press contributed to this report

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