In his latest jolt to the prevailing global order, Trump on Thursday announced tariffs on as much as $60 billion of Chinese imports, targeting sectors in which Washington says China has stolen American technology.
China had warned the United States that it was “not afraid of a trade war” as it threatened tariffs on $3 billion worth of US goods in retaliation.
And French President Emmanuel Macron said Europe would respond “without weakness” to Washington’s threats of tariffs on steel and aluminium.
Global stocks have plummeted as fears rise that the confrontation could provoke a damaging trade war.
Washington this week said it would temporarily exempt Europe as well as countries including Brazil, Argentina, South Korea and Australia from the steep new steel and aluminium tariffs that Trump unveiled this month and which took effect yesterday.
European and US trade officials said this week they were beginning talks to reach a compromise.
“Many other countries are now negotiating fair trade deals with us,” Trump said Friday.
“Part of the reason, frankly, that we’re able to do that is the fact that we have the tariffs on steel and the tariffs on aluminium.”
Meanwhile, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that US and South Korean officials were “relatively close” to reaching a deal on the steel and aluminium tariffs, with an announcement possible as early as next week.
But Beijing has also unveiled a hit list of products that could face duties of up to 25%, from fresh fruit to pork and wine, though it stopped short of pulling the trigger as it indicated its readiness to negotiate an agreement.
China’s commerce ministry warned that a 15% tariff on 120 goods worth almost $1 billion — including fresh fruit, nuts and wine — would be imposed if the US fails to reach a “trade compensation agreement” within an unspecified time frame.
In a second step, a 25% tariff would be imposed on eight goods totalling nearly $2 billion, including pork and aluminium scrap, after “further evaluating the impact of the US measures on China,” the statement said.
The United States had a record $375.2 billion goods trade deficit with China last year.