Business

China, US kick off new round of tariffs in escalating trade war

Tit-for-tat trade war escalates despite signs that talks are set to resume

BEIJING : China and the US began imposing additional tariffs on each other's goods yesterday, the latest escalation in a bruising trade war, despite signs that talks would resume some time this month.

A new round of tariffs took effect from 0401 GMT (noon Singapore time), with Beijing's levy of 5 per cent on US crude, marking the first time the fuel has been targeted since the world's two largest economies started their trade war more than a year ago.

The Trump administration will begin collecting 15 per cent tariffs on more than US$125 billion (S$173 billion) in Chinese imports, including smart speakers, Bluetooth headphones and many types of footwear.

In retaliation, China started to impose additional tariffs on some US goods on a US$75 billion target list. Beijing did not specify the value of the goods that face higher tariffs from yesterday.

The extra tariffs of 5 per cent and 10 per cent were levied on 1,717 items of a total of 5,078 products originating from the US. Beijing will start collecting additional tariffs on the rest from Dec 15.

Chinese state media struck a defiant note.

"The United States should learn how to behave like a responsible global power and stop acting as a 'school bully'," the official Xinhua news agency said.

"As the world's only superpower, it needs to shoulder its due responsibility and join other countries in making this world a better and more prosperous place. Only then can America become great again."

Tariffs could not impede China's development, said the official People's Daily of the ruling Communist Party.

"China's booming economy has made China a fertile ground for investment that foreign companies cannot ignore," it said, in a commentary under the name Zhong Sheng, or Voice of China, which is often used to state its view on foreign policy issues.

Last month, US President Donald Trump said he was increasing existing and planned tariffs by 5 per cent on US$550 billion worth of Chinese imports after Beijing announced its own retaliatory tariffs on US goods.

Tariffs of 15 per cent on cellphones, laptop computers, toys and clothing are to take effect on Dec 15.

Trade teams from China and the US continue to talk and will meet this month, but tariff hikes on Chinese goods set to go in place yesterday will not be delayed, Mr Trump has said. - REUTERS

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