BEIJING/WASHINGTON: The US-China trade war escalated further on Tuesday, with China announcing retaliatory tax increases on $60 billion worth of US imports, including coffee, honey and industrial chemicals.

The increases are in response to the US announcing it will impose tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese-made goods starting next week. The tariffs will start at 10 per cent, then rise to 25pc on Jan 1.

China’s Finance Ministry said its tariff increases are aimed at curbing “trade friction” and the “unilateralism and protectionism of the United States.” There was no word on whether China would back out of trade talks it said it was invited to by the US, but a Chinese Commerce Ministry statement said the US increase “brings new uncertainty to the consultations.”

The two countries have already imposed import taxes on $50 billion worth of each other’s goods. President Donald Trump threatened to add an additional $267 billion in Chinese imports to the target list if China retaliated for the latest US taxes. That would raise the total affected by US penalties to $517 billion, covering nearly everything China sells to the United States.

The American Chamber of Commerce in China warned that Washington is underestimating Beijing’s determination to fight back.

“The downward spiral that we have previously warned about now seems certain to materialize,” said William Zarit, the chamber’s chairman.

Trump accuses China of election meddling in trade war

President Donald Trump accused China of seeking to influence knife-edge midterm congressional elections, by taking aim at his political support base in the economic giants’ rapidly escalating trade war.

The allegation added an explosive new element to the dispute after Trump pulled the trigger late on Monday on 10 per cent tariffs against another $200 billion in Chinese goods from next week, with a threat of more tariffs on another $267 billion.

Beijing responded by announcing new tariffs on $60 billion of US imports.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2018

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