June 19, 2018

Walt and Alex Breitinger: Battle lines harden as trade war looms

09 April 2018, 12:43 | Sheila Mcguire

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. CREDIT Rex Shutterstock

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.				CREDIT Rex Shutterstock

Trump, in light of what he called China's "unfair retaliation" against earlier U.S. trade actions, had upped the ante on Thursday by ordering USA officials to identify extra tariffs, escalating a tit-for-tat confrontation with potentially damaging consequences for the world's two biggest economies.

The escalating trade confrontation between Washington and Beijing threatened to boil over after President Donald Trump lashed out again and China called on the European Union to join the battle, sending global stocks into the red.

China's Commerce Ministry spokesman, Gao Feng, calling the U.S. action "extremely mistaken" and unjustified, said the spat was a struggle between unilateralism and multilateralism and that no negotiations were likely in the current circumstances.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Sunday that China would take down its trade barriers and that the two countries would reach a deal on intellectual property.

The statement followed China's pledge to impose tariffs on almost $50 billion in imports from the US. In response, China on Sunday slapped tariffs on $3 billion on agricultural products from the US including hog parts, wine, fruit and nuts.

This was two days after the USA released a list of 1,300 products it proposed hitting with tariffs, totaling about $50 billion in trade. China wasted no time in firing back with 25-percent tariffs on imports of 106 US products, including soybeans, automobiles, chemicals, and aircraft.

In both cases, the extra tariffs would only come into effect if the U.S. decides to go ahead with its $50 billion round of tariffs first announced on March 22. United States stock futures ESc1 fell 1 percent and the dollar dipped against other major currencies.

China commented on Trump's announcement saying it was fully prepared to respond.

Al Jazeera's Gabriel Elizondo reports from New York, US.

China plans to slap tariffs on most vehicles, including electric cars. A key reason is that in the absence of United States leadership, China faces less resistance in setting the worldwide standards in trade and investment and technology development.

Meanwhile, Larry Kudlow continued to do the media rounds.

China also urged the European Union to join it in taking a clear stance against United States protectionism, calling for Brussels and Beijing to "jointly preserve the rules-based multilateral trade order", said Zhang Ming, head of the Chinese mission to the EU.

USA manufacturing giants that sell products in China, such as Apple, Boeing, Caterpillar, General Motors and Intel, are also expected to take a hit if China follows through on its threats.

Trump's new round of tariffs would have similarly negative consequences for the USA pharmaceutical industry, which makes heavy use of ingredients produced overseas.

Financial markets have been roiled by the prospect of threats becoming action and United States stocks tumbled on Friday as investors anxious about an escalating trade war.

"We are on a unsafe downward spiral and American families will be on the losing end", Shay added in a statement, urging Trump " to stop playing a game of chicken with the USA economy".

There is still time for the president to step back from the precipice, but it will take his hearing from the people who voted for him, letting him know that they're the ones who stand to lose the most from his trade policy. "Perhaps there will be some fruitful negotiations", he said.

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