Donald Trump threatens new tariffs on Chinese imports

Move would be the latest round of measures in a dispute over the trade imbalance between the two countries

epa06807018 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping as they pose for photograph at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, 14 June 2018.  EPA/ANDY WONG  / POOL

United States President Donald Trump directed his trade representative to prepare new tariffs on US$200 billion (Dh734bn) in Chinese imports on Monday, as the two nations moved closer to a potential trade war.

The tariffs, which the US president wants set at a 10 per cent rate, would be the latest round of punitive measures in an escalating dispute over the large trade imbalance between the two countries. Mr Trump recently ordered tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods in retaliation for intellectual properly theft. The tariffs were quickly matched by China on US exports.

“China apparently has no intention of changing its unfair practices related to the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology,” Mr Trump said in a statement on Monday, announcing the new action. “Rather than altering those practices, it is now threatening United States companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong.”

He added: “These tariffs will go into effect if China refuses to change its practices, and also if it insists on going forward with the new tariffs that it has recently announced.”

The president said that if China responds to this fresh round of tariffs, then he will move to counter “by pursuing additional tariffs on another $200 billion of goods”.

His comments came hours after the top US diplomat accused China of engaging in “predatory economics 101” and an “unprecedented level of larceny” of intellectual property.

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo made the remarks at the Detroit Economic Club as global markets reacted to trade tensions between the US and China. Both nations started putting trade tariffs in motion that are set to take effect on July 6.

He said China’s recent claims of “openness and globalisation” are “a joke”. Mr Pompeo added that China is a “predatory economic government” that is “long overdue in being tackled,” with matters that include IP theft and Chinese steel and aluminium flooding the US market.

“Everyone knows ... China is the main perpetrator,” he said. “It’s an unprecedented level of larceny.”

“Just ask yourself: Would China have allowed America to do to it what China has done to America?” he said later. “This is predatory economics 101.”

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr Pompeo raised the trade issue directly with China last week, when he met in Beijing with President Xi Jinping and others.

“I reminded him that’s not fair competition,” Mr Pompeo said.

President Trump had announced a 25 per cent tariff on up to $50 billion in Chinese imports. China is retaliating by raising import duties on $34 billion worth of American goods, including soybeans, electric cars and whiskey. He also has slapped tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from Canada, Mexico and European allies.