China has increased tariffs by up to 25 percent on 128 U.S. products, from frozen pork and wine to certain fruits and nuts, escalating a dispute between the world’s biggest economies in response to U.S. duties on imports of aluminum and steel.
The tariffs, to take effect on Monday, were announced late on Sunday by China’s finance ministry and matched a list of possible tariffs on up to $3 billion in U.S. goods published by China on March 23.
Soon after the announcement, an editorial in the widely read Global Times newspaper warned that if the United States had thought China would not retaliate or would only take symbolic counter-measures, it could “say goodbye to that delusion”.
“Even though China and the U.S. have not publicly said they are in a trade war, the sparks of such a war have already started to fly,” the newspaper said.
The Ministry of Commerce said it was suspending its obligations to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to reduce tariffs on 120 U.S. goods, including fruit and ethanol. The tariffs on those products will be raised by an extra 15 percent.
Eight other products, including pork and scrap aluminum, would now be subject to additional tariffs of 25 percent, it said, with the measures effective from April 2.
“China’s suspension of its tariff concessions is a legitimate action adopted under WTO rules to safeguard China’s interests,” the finance ministry said.
China is moving swiftly with retaliatory action amid escalating trade tension with the United States, which has rocked global financial markets in the past week as investors fear a full-blown trade dispute between them will damage world growth.
U.S. President Donald Trump is separately preparing to impose tariffs of more than $50 billion on Chinese goods following an investigation under Section 301 of the 1974 U.S. Trade Act.
The U.S. administration says China has systematically misappropriated American intellectual property – allegations China denies.
Reaction to China’s measures varied on social media, with some saying Chinese customers would be the ones to ultimately pay for a trade war.