President Donald Trump moved the US to the brink of a trade war with China, announcing tariffs on $50bn (R670bn) of Chinese imports that America’s biggest trading partner has vowed to retaliate against.
In a statement Friday, Trump pledged additional tariffs if China follows through on the threat to fight back. The 25% duties are a response to the US’s so-called Section 301 investigation earlier this year that accused China of stealing US intellectual property in an effort to dominate the development of advanced technology.
“The United States can no longer tolerate losing our technology and intellectual property through unfair economic practices,” Trump said in the statement.
China, the world’s No. 2 economy behind the US, has pledged to retaliate on US exports including soybeans and pork. The US imported $505 billion of goods from China last year and exported about $130 billion, leaving a 2017 trade deficit of $376 billion, according to US government figures.
Trump frequently cites the imbalance as the justification for a punitive trade policy toward China, Canada, Mexico, the European Union and other trading partners.
“These tariffs are essential to preventing further unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China, which will protect American jobs,” he said. “In addition, they will serve as an initial step toward bringing balance to the trade relationship between the United States and China.”* Sign up to Fin24's top news in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TO FIN24 NEWSLETTER