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August 24, 2019

Trump lashes out at Beijing over tariff row

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August 24, 2019

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump lashed out at Beijing on Friday, vowing a quick response to China’s announcement of new tariffs and ordering American companies to leave the country.

The blistering Twitter screed called into doubt chances for a quick resolution to the escalating trade war between the world’s economic superpowers, which, by the end of the year, will cover nearly all imports and exports exchanged between the two countries.

"We don’t need China and, frankly, would be far... better off without them, Trump tweeted. The attack came with Trump expected to ruffle feathers in France at the weekend meeting of the G7 grouping of rich nations, with tensions mounting between Trump and the Europeans, Canada and Japan over trade tariffs.

The friction already has slowed US growth and undercut the global economy, and the threat of a deterioration sent stock markets falling sharply.

The Dow lost more than 500 points from its peak, and was two percent down on Thursday’s close in early afternoon trading. The German DAX lost more than one percent but London´s FTSE gained ground.

"Our Country has lost, stupidly, Trillions of Dollars with China over many years. They have stolen our Intellectual Property at a rate of Hundreds of Billions of Dollars a year, & they want to continue. I won´t let that happen!," Trump tweeted.

"Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing... your companies HOME and making your products in the USA."

It is unclear under what authority Trump could demand private companies alter their production. China announced Friday it would hit US soybeans, lobsters, peanut butter and other imports worth $75 billion with new tariffs in retaliation for Washington´s latest round of punitive duties that take effect in two rounds, September 1 and December 15.

"I will be responding to China’s Tariffs this afternoon. This is a GREAT opportunity for the United States," he tweeted. But the influential US Chamber of Commerce urged the two sides to return to the negotiating table to find a solution.

"While we share the president´s frustration, we believe that continued, constructive engagement is the right way forward," Myron Brilliant, the business group´s head of international affairs, said in a statement.

"Time is of the essence. We do not want to see a further deterioration of US-China relations." And the National Retail Federation said it was "unrealistic" to expect American retailers to move out of the world´s second largest economy.

China’s punitive tariffs of five to 10 percent will apply to 5,078 US items, timed to start in tandem with the new US duties September 1 and December 15, China´s state council tariff office said.

Beijing also announced it would reimpose a 25 percent tariff on US autos and a five percent tariff on auto parts, also starting December 15. China had lifted those tariffs earlier this year as a goodwill measure while trade talks were underway.

Trump already imposed steep tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods, with a further $300 billion in imports targeted in the coming rounds. Beijing has hit back with duties on around $110 billion of US goods -- or nearly all of the $120 billion worth of American goods it imported last year.

Some of those goods will now have their tariff rates raised even further. China´s commerce ministry said it will hit American frozen lobster, frozen chicken feet, peanut butter and 914 other goods with new 10 percent punitive tariffs starting September 1.

Soybeans, crude oil and other energy goods face 5 percent tariffs. The US actions "have led to the continuous escalation of China-US economic and trade frictions, violating the consensus reached by the two heads of state in Argentina and the consensus reached in Osaka," China´s State Council Tariff Commission Office said in a statement.

"China´s adoption of punitive tariff measures is forced under the pressure of US unilateralism and trade protectionism," the office said. US-made mango juice, electric buses and chemical products face 10 percent duties come mid-December while smaller aircraft, hand pumps and bearings will be hit with 5 percent taxes.

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