China quickly hit back on Wednesday at Trump administration plans to slap tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods, retaliating with a list of similar duties on key U.S. imports including soybeans, planes, cars, whiskey and chemicals.
The speed with which the trade struggle between Washington and Beijing is ratcheting up – the Chinese government took less than 11 hours to respond with its own measures – led to a sharp selloff in global stock markets and commodities.
Investors are wondering whether one of the worst trade disputes in many years could now turn into a full-scale trade war between the world’s two economic superpowers.
“The assumption was China would not respond too aggressively and avoid escalating tensions. China’s response is a surprise for some people,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, Senior China Economist at Capital Economics, noting that neither said had yet called for enforcement of the tariffs.
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“It’s more of a game of brinkmanship, making it clear what the cost would be, in the hopes that both sides can come to agreement and none of these tariffs will come into force,” he said.
Beijing’s list of 25 percent additional tariffs on U.S. goods covers 106 items with a trade value matching the $50 billion targeted on Washington’s list, China’s commerce and finance ministries said. The effective date depends on when the U.S. action takes effect.