U.S. President Donald Trump fired the biggest shot yet in the global trade war by imposing tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports.
The Trump administration plans on putting tariffs on billions of dollars in Chinese goods, possibly taking food off the table of American auto workers. They kicked in just after midnight ET, which is noon in Beijing.
The US has applied tariffs on goods imported from China worth $34bn in the latest measures created to tackle its trade deficit with the Asian country.
The United States accuses China of using predatory tactics in a push to supplant American technological dominance.
On Thursday, he suggested the possibility of tariffs on nearly $500 billion more of Chinese goods.
At about the same time, China authorized something similar in reverse, issuing penalties on American cotton, soybean, pork and cars. "These tariffs will do nothing to protect USA jobs, but they will undermine the benefits of tax reform and drive up prices for a wide range of products as diverse as tool sets, batteries, remote controls, flash drives and thermostats".
And Beijing's tactics may go beyond tariffs to include arbitrary quarantines and a costly uptick in customs inspections.
As the day dawned across the US on Friday, a new economic reality dawned with it: The tariffs long threatened against billions of dollars in Chinese goods took effect just at midnight ET while many Americans were sleeping - but Beijing was ready immediately with a wake-up call of its own.
This will be affected by how high individual tariffs are, and also if they are expanded to other countries like Canada, Mexico and the European Union.
Cheng Dawei, a professor of worldwide trade at Renmin University in Beijing says these industries are still in their early stages and need inputs from global supply chains. The first phase of that will affect $34 billion worth of goods.
The Trump administration's first round of duties hits major Chinese technology products, and another round of tariffs on $16 billion worth of goods is set to go into effect as soon as August. Many countries, including India, have complained that there are too many restrictions on American exports that they actually want, and Washington simply wants to unload its excesses, such a chicken legs, on countries that don't particularly need them.
That would bring the total of targeted Chinese goods to potentially $550bn - more than the $506bn in goods that China shipped to the United States past year.
China's Ministry of Commerce also said it would look to report the U.S.to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday, accusing Washington of breaching global trade laws.
"As for possible impacts on businesses from the trade war initiated by the United States, we will keep assessing the situation and make efforts to help [foreign] businesses to mitigate any possible impacts", Gao said. "It's very hard to see this happening in the current environment".
In the short term, analysts said, the moves may disrupt markets and hinder trade in both countries.
The two giant economies appear ready to see which side can endure the most pain. Reducing the deficit would signal that the global economy shouldn't be investing in US debt.
But the thing is some say the trade war started this morning, and in a war, it's not always calm or controllable or rational. "At that point, the United States will be more interested in negotiations, and the Chinese side will also want to come to the table". For example, the U.S. government wants China to rein in government subsidies for policies like "Made in China 2025", which seeks to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into industries such as robotics, electric cars and computer chips with the aim of becoming a global leader.
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