Trump administration moves ahead with new round of tariffs on Chinese imports

The White House reportedly had a private meeting with tech industry representatives last week.                  Daniel Terdiman  CNET

The US will impose a 25% tariff on $16 billion worth of Chinese goods starting August 23. But officials have threatened to retaliate in other ways, like increasing the rate of tariffs on additional American imports.

President Trump had repeatedly expressed discontent over the U.S. trade deficit with China, accusing the country of unfair trade practices, intellectual property theft, currency manipulation, and of providing state aid to Chinese firms.

China is imposing additional tariffs of 25 per cent on $16 billion USA worth of U.S. imports from fuel and steel products to autos and medical equipment, the Chinese commerce ministry said, as the world's largest economies escalated their trade dispute.

China's goods trade went up 8.6 percent year on year to 16.72 trillion yuan (about 2.45 trillion USA dollars) in the first seven months of this year, customs data showed Wednesday.

The fresh tariffs will apply to 279 items.

The surplus with the United States was higher than China's overall trade surplus in July, which was $28.05 billion, indicating China ran a net trade deficit with the world excluding the U.S. So far, despite the rhetoric, only $37bn worth of imports into China and the USA have actually been affected.

China's levies will come into force at 12:01 on August 23, according to a statement on the finance ministry's web site.

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After complaints by Chinese leaders, Trump agreed to reverse a US enforcement action that would have caused ZTE, a prominent state-owned telecom company, to go out of business.

However, analysts still expect a less favorable trade balance for China in coming months given it's early days in the tariff brawl. Beijing is expected to hit $16 billion worth of USA goods with equal tariffs in response to Tuesday's move.

Jameel Ahmad, global head of currency strategy and market research at FXTM, said the escalation "is just reminding investors that their trade war concerns are going nowhere anytime soon".

ANZ senior China economist Betty Wang said Beijing will likely resist using its closely managed currency as a tool in the trade war. At the weekend, Mr Trump said he had the upper hand in the trade war, while Beijing responded through state media by saying it was ready to endure the economic fallout.

The US has said the tariffs are meant to penalise China for "unfair" trade practices, such as rules that compel companies in certain sectors to take on local partners if they want to do business in the country. There is a mandatory 60-day comment period for industries to ask for exemptions from the tariffs.

Beijing has called on USA officials to be "cool headed", but has warned it will retaliate against any tariffs with its own measures.

May 19: After a meeting, the two countriesannounce the outline of a trade dealto avoid the tariffs.

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