WASHINGTON -- The United States has escalated a trade war with China, threatening to impose fresh tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese goods as soon as September, sparking a furious reaction in Beijing.
The latest shot in a spiralling trade conflict between the world’s top two economies came just days after tit-for-tat tariffs on $34 billion in goods came into effect.
Analysts have warned that ballooning trade tensions between the two financial powerhouses could have a damaging impact on the global economy.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer late Tuesday accused China of retaliating to its tariffs “without any international legal basis or justification.”
President Donald Trump has therefore ordered the trade department to “begin the process of imposing tariffs of 10 percent on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports,” Lighthizer said in a statement.
Officials will hold hearings in late August on the list of targeted products and an administration official said it would take about two months to finalize, at which point Trump would decide whether to go ahead with the levies.
The eventual goal is to impose tariffs on 40 percent of Chinese imports, the same proportion of US goods hit by Beijing’s retaliation, an official told reporters.
If the measures are imposed, it would mean new taxes on thousands of products from fish to chemicals, metals and tires.
Reacting to the Washington announcement, a senior trade official in Beijing accused the United States of “damaging the world economic order” and said tit-for-tat tariffs would “destroy” trade between the rival powers.
“The outburst of large-scale mutual levying of tariffs between China and the United States will inevitably destroy Sino-US trade,” assistant minister of commerce Li Chenggang told a forum in Beijing.
US policy “actually interferes with the process of economic globalization” and “damages the world economic order,” charged Li.
The dispute comes on top of Washington’s confrontation with other allies and major trading partners including Canada, Mexico and the European Union, after it imposed steep tariffs imposed on their steel and aluminum.