President Donald Trump has instructed the United States (US) trade representative to consider slapping an additional $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods in a dramatic escalation of the trade dispute between the two countries.
Trump’s surprise move on Thursday came a day after Beijing announced plans to tax $50 billion in American products, including soybeans and small aircraft, in response to a US move this week to slap tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports.
And it intensified what was already shaping up to be the biggest trade battle since World War II.
Global financial markets had fallen sharply as the world’s two biggest economies squared off over Beijing’s aggressive trade tactics. But they had calmed down on Wednesday and Thursday on hopes the US and China would find a diplomatic solution.
Instead, the White House announced after the markets closed on Thursday that Trump had instructed the Office of the US Trade Representative to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate and, if so, to identify which products they should apply to.
He’s also instructed his secretary of agriculture “to implement a plan to protect our farmers and agricultural interests”.
“China’s illicit trade practices ignored for years by Washington have destroyed thousands of American factories and millions of American jobs,” Trump said in a statement announcing the decision.
Soon after Trump’s announcement, China said on Friday that it was ready to pay “any cost” in a possible trade war with the US.
“If the US side disregards opposition from China and the international community and insists on carrying out unilateralism and trade protectionism, the Chinese side will take them on until the end at any cost,” the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on its website.