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U.S. ratchets up China trade war, threatens tariffs on $200 billion of goods

Reuters  |  WASHINGTON/BEIJING 

By and Stella Qiu

WASHINGTON/(Reuters) - The raised the stakes in its trade dispute with on Tuesday, saying it would slap 10 percent tariffs on an extra $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, including numerous consumer items, sending stocks in skidding.

said it was "shocked" by the latest U.S. trade action and would complain to the World Trade Organisation, but did not immediately say how it would retaliate. It called the actions "completely unacceptable" in a statement released around midday on Wednesday.

has said it would hit back against Washington's escalating measures, including through "qualitative measures," a threat that U.S. businesses in fear could mean anything from stepped-up inspections to delays in investment approvals and even consumer boycotts.

U.S. officials issued a list of thousands of Chinese imports the wants to hit with the new tariffs, including hundreds of as well as tobacco, chemicals, coal, and aluminium.

It also includes consumer goods ranging from car tires, furniture, wood products, handbags and suitcases, to dog and cat food, baseball gloves, carpets, doors, bicycles, skis, golf bags, toilet paper and

"For over a year, the has patiently urged to stop its unfair practices, open its market, and engage in true market competition," U.S. Trade said in announcing the proposed tariffs.

"Rather than address our legitimate concerns, China has begun to retaliate against U.S. products ... There is no justification for such action," he said in a statement.

Last week, imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports, and responded immediately with matching tariffs on the same amount of U.S. exports to China. Each side is mulling tariffs on a further $16 billion in goods that would bring the totals to $50 billion.

MARKETS RATTLED

Investors fear an escalating trade war between the world's two biggest economies could hit global growth.

On Wednesday, the MSCI's broadest index of shares outside was down about 1 percent, while the main indexes in Hong Kong and recovered somewhat after falling more than 2 percent.

and Dow futures dropped around 1 percent, pointing to a weak opening on Wall Street later on Wednesday.

The onshore yuan tracked its offshore counterpart lower with traders closely watching the key 6.7 per dollar level as pressure mounted on the currency.

U.S. has said he may ultimately impose tariffs on more than $500 billion worth of Chinese goods - roughly the total amount of U.S. imports from China last year.

The new list published on Tuesday targets many more consumer goods than those covered under the tariffs imposed last week, raising the direct threat to consumers and retail firms and increasing the stakes for lawmakers in Trump's facing elections in November.

The list is subject to a two-month public comment period before taking effect.

'TARIFFS ARE TAXES'

Senate Finance Committee Orrin Hatch, a senior member of Trump's Republican Party, said the announcement "appears reckless and is not a targeted approach."

The has supported Trump's domestic tax cuts and efforts to reduce regulation of businesses, but it has been critical of Trump's aggressive policies.

"Tariffs are taxes, plain and simple. Imposing taxes on another $200 billion worth of products will raise the costs of every day goods for American families, farmers, ranchers, workers, and job creators. It will also result in retaliatory tariffs, further hurting American workers," a said.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association, a group representing the largest U.S. retailers, said: "The has broken his promise to bring 'maximum pain on China, minimum pain on consumers.'"

"American families are the ones being punished. Consumers, businesses and the American jobs dependent on trade, are left in the crosshairs of an escalating global trade war," said Hun Quach, the head of policy for the group.

Louis Kuijs, Hong Kong-based Head of Economics at Oxford Economics, said while he expects China to strongly condemn the U.S. moves, its policy response is likely to be limited for now.

"In part because they have only limited ammunition and in part because it's still early in the process on the U.S. side," Kuijs said.

Earlier in the day, Li Chenggang, at China's Commerce Ministry, said that the latest U.S. proposals would hurt both countries and pointed to declines in Chinese growth and overseas investment to the in the first half of this year.

"It looks like the U.S. just took the scale of the trade frictions to another level," Li said at a forum in Beijing. "Right now, world trade is relatively chaotic. We believe the U.S. measures interfere with economic globalisation and damage the world economic order."

Trump has been following through on pledges he made during his presidential campaign to get tough on China, which he accuses of unfair trade practices including theft of intellectual property and forced that have led to a $375 billion U.S. trade deficit with China.

China's exports have mushroomed since it joined the in 2001, making it the world's second-largest and prompting widening criticism in recent ears from trading partners that it has unfairly used global trade rules to its advantage.

(Reporting by in WASHINGTON, Elias Glenn and in BEIJING; Writing by Tony Munroe; Editing by and Sam Holmes)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, July 11 2018. 10:13 IST
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