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Trade war

Trump approves $50bn China tariffs, escalating trade war

Decision comes after Beijing urges 'wise choice'

Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump's approval of new tariffs on Chinese imports has further raised tensions with Beijing.   © Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump approved tariffs on about $50 billion worth of goods from China, various U.S. media reported on Friday, in a move expected to further escalate trade tensions between the two countries.

The United States Trade Representative is set to announce a list of goods that will be subject to the tariffs on Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported. The affected imports would face a tariff of 25%, and the items would fall under similar categories to those announced by the USTR in April, it added.

Reuters reported that 800 product categories would be affected, down from 1,300 outlined in April, citing an administration official and an indusrty source. However, the time frame for implementation of the new tariffs remains unclear.

If implemented, Beijing is expected to take retaliatory measures. On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged Washington to make the "wise choice" after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Beijing.

The Chinese government prefered "cooperation and mutual benefit," but had also "made preparations" in case Washington went ahead with the tariffs, Wang said.

Washington had previously announced the list in response to what it claimed were forced transfers of U.S. technology to Chinese companies and intellectual property infringements. China hit back by saying it had prepared its own $50 billion list of U.S. goods that it would subject to tariffs, including soybeans and aircraft.

Trump refused to back down, ordering his administration to consider adding another $100 billion of goods to the U.S. tariff list.

The two countries have negotiated deals on other fronts. The U.S. banned its companies from selling components to ZTE, the Chinese telecommunications equipment maker, in April. Last week, the U.S. and China reached a deal to suspend the ban on condition that the company pay a $1 billion fine.

Wataru Suzuki

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