The United States escalated a tariff war with China on Friday by hiking levies on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods amid last-ditch talks to rescue a trade deal, as U.S. President Donald Trump signaled that talks could drag on beyond this week.
In a series of early morning tweets on Friday, Trump defended his decision to raise tariffs, saying there was no need to rush into a deal and adding that the American economy would be boosted more by the levies than by an eventual deal.
But even as Beijing threatened retaliation, negotiators agreed to stay at the table in Washington for a second day, keeping alive hopes of an agreement that would remove a major threat to the global economy.
Trump, who has adopted protectionist policies as part of his “America First” agenda, issued orders for the tariff increase, saying China “broke the deal” by reneging on earlier commitments made during months of negotiations.
Tariffs will bring in FAR MORE wealth to our Country than even a phenomenal deal of the traditional kind. Also, much easier & quicker to do. Our Farmers will do better, faster, and starving nations can now be helped. Waivers on some products will be granted, or go to new source!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2019
China’s Commerce Ministry said it would take countermeasures, without elaborating.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talked for 90 minutes on Thursday and were expected to resume efforts on Friday to rescue a deal that could end a 10-month trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
The Commerce Ministry said negotiations were continuing, and that it “hopes the United States can meet China halfway, make joint efforts, and resolve the issue through cooperation and consultation.”
With negotiations in progress, U.S. Customs and Border Protection imposed a 25% duty on more than 5,700 categories of products leaving China after 12:01 a.m. EDT (0401 GMT) on Friday.
Trump gave U.S. importers less than five days notice about his decision to increase the rate on the $200 billion category of goods, which now matches the rate on a prior $50 billion category of Chinese machinery and technology goods.
He has also threatened to impose new tariffs soon, saying that the U.S. would start “paperwork” on another $325 billion in Chinese imports.
The biggest Chinese sector affected by the latest tariff increase is a $20 billion-plus category of internet modems, routers and other data transmission devices, followed by about $12 billion worth of printed circuit boards used in a vast array of U.S.-made products.
Furniture, lighting products, auto parts, vacuum cleaners and building materials are also high on the list of products subject to higher duties.