President Donald Trump heightened the trade war rhetoric with China on Thursday, saying he was considering to slap the U.S. trade rival with another $100 billion in tariffs.
“In light of China’s unfair retaliation, I have instructed the U.S. Trade Representative to consider whether 100 billion dollars of additional tariffs would be appropriate,” Mr Trump said in a statement.
The trade war between the two largest economies started after Mr Trump imposed tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum, which also prompted a response from China.
The U.S. had also announced new tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, claiming that China was stealing U.S. intellectual property.
In retaliation, China responded within hours by announcing $50 billion worth of tariffs on U.S. goods.
The Chinese government said earlier in the week that it would respond with equal measure to any new duties on its goods by the U.S.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in Beijing:
“We have been saying that China wouldn’t start a trade war.
“But we are not afraid of it, and we will resolutely fight to the end if someone insists on a war.”
The U.S. has threatened to levy import taxes on more than 1,300 Chinese products, including televisions, dishwashers and printers.
In response, China has vowed to target key U.S. exports, including soybeans.
“Rather than remedy its misconduct, China has chosen to harm our farmers and manufacturers,” Md Trump’s statement said.
The U.S. president said he had instructed the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer to “identify the products upon which to impose” the additional tariffs he suggested.
Mr Lighthizer, in a statement late Thursday, said Trump’s request was “appropriate.”
Mr Lighthizer said: “China has chosen to respond thus far with threats to impose unjustified tariffs on billions of dollars in U.S. exports, including our agricultural products.
“Such measures would undoubtedly cause further harm to American workers, farmers, and businesses.
“Under these circumstances, the President is right to ask for additional appropriate action to obtain the elimination of the unfair acts, policies, and practices identified in USTR’s report.”
Mr Trump’s latest announcement rattled markets but Larry Kudlow, the Director of the White House National Economic Council, in responding to Mr Trump’s threats, said the tariffs was a just proposal.
Mr Kudlow, in an attempt to reassure investors, said there was “nothing around the corner” regarding any concrete tariff plans.