President Donald Trump moved the U.S. to the brink of a trade war with China, announcing tariffs on $50bn (R670bn) of Chinese imports that America's biggest trading partner has vowed to retaliate against.
The American tariffs will come in two phases, the U.S. Trade Representative's office said on Friday, with the tariff on some $34 billion worth of Chinese imports set to take effect on July 6.
The administration also is targeting another 284 Chinese products, which the administration says benefit from China's aggressive industrial policies, worth $16 billion a year but won't impose those tariffs until it collects public comment.
Reacting to Trump's latest announcement, China said it has imposed "equal" tariffs on United States products.
Beijing has previously warned it would retaliate against such an action and within minutes of Mr Trump's announcement, the country's commerce ministry confirmed this.
President Donald Trump has vowed to clamp down on what he calls China's unfair trade practices.
"We'll do $50 billion, on $50 billion of high technology equipment and other things coming into the country because so much of our secrets, we have the great brain power in silicon valley and China and others".
U.S. farmers are especially concerned about the impact of a trade war, since they are sure to feel the hit.
Time will tell if this market will turn from bull to bear because the longer the uncertainty lingers, the more nervous investors will become.
'That's what has gotten us to the situation today where the Chinese are actually at the table, ' Bannon said.
Business groups expressed their continued concern for the decision.
If Washington adopts tariffs, Beijing is expected to hit back with its own duties on USA imports, including soybeans, cars, chemicals and planes, according to a list it released in early April. "It's no longer a negotiating tactic, it's a tax on their livelihoods", Kuehl said. "When they do, they're not going to remain silent", he said.
Reuters said, citing an unnamed administration official, "Trump no longer thought of China's influence over North Korea as a compelling reason not to impose tariffs now that the United States had a direct line of communication with Pyongyang".
Under the 1974 trade law that Trump invoked to pursue a tariff investigation into China's intellectual property practices, he could delay the activation by 30 days.
There are already signs the metal tariffs, on top of those for solar panels and washing machines, are starting to hit some US businesses.
After China warned it would retaliate, Trump threatened tariffs on a further $100 billion of Chinese products.
The president gave the green light after a meeting Thursday with top economic officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
Before Friday, the Trump administration had imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, along with solar panels and washing machines.
"If the United States takes unilateral and protectionist measures that harm Chinese interests, we will respond immediately by taking the necessary decisions to safeguard our legitimate rights and interests". "While we await further details on this trade action, President Trump is right on target".
She said: "Asian investors are already bracing themselves for the fallout which could potentially spread from metals producers onto other industries such as auto makers".
But Steve Bannon, Trump's former White House and campaign adviser, said the crackdown on China's trade practices was 'the central part of Trump's economic nationalist message'.
"We had good and constructive discussions".
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