China warns United States it will defend own trade interests

Trump on Thursday said the WTO was "a disaster for us" and insisted its arbitrations were "unfair" to the U.S.

Analysts struggled to immediately understand why items such as wine, a product from the Democratic stronghold of California, would make the list but not top USA imports such as sorghum and soybeans. "When they charge 25 per cent and we charge 2.5 per cent that's not reciprocal", he said.

Trump's order also directs the US Treasury to develop new proposals to increase safeguards against Chinese investments in the US that could compromise national security.

Beijing threatened Washington with higher tariffs worth $3 billion for imported United States products. But the timing, hours after Trump made his White House announcement impose tariffs specifically aimed at China, sent an unmistakable message. The threat mirrors the U.S. duty hike of 15 percent on aluminum.

Stocks fell sharply on Trump's announcement, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average.DJI falling almost 3 percent.

Rather, it gives officials 15 days to come up with a list of products tailored to do $50 billion U.S. in economic harm to China, while minimizing the impact on American consumers and companies.

"The tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the following countries are suspended until May 1, 2018", the White House said in a statement, listing European Union members states, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea.

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Rick Larsen, a US House Representative from the second congressional district in the northwestern US state, said Trump's attempt to punish China by hitting it with US$60 billion of punitive tariffs "is not the right choice". "Engaging in a trade war will ... result in higher prices for a wide range of consumer products and basic household goods". "Many of these areas are those where China has sought to acquire advantage through the unfair acquisition and forced technology transfer from U.S. companies", said Everett Eissenstat, deputy director of the National Economic Council.

The ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily said in a commentary that Washington was determined to choose "rashness and impetuousness" despite China's efforts to be constructive.

Lighthizer told US lawmakers on Thursday that the European Union, along with Argentina, Australia, Brazil and South Korea, would also be exempted.

In addition to the tariffs, the United States also plans to impose new investment restrictions, take action against China at the World Trade Organisation while the Treasury Department also will propose additional measures.

It's not just higher prices for consumers in the US, either.

The Chinese embassy in Washington said in a statement: "If a trade war were initiated by the US, China would fight to the end to defend its own legitimate interests with all necessary measures".

Trump likes to prove his point by highlighting a growing trade deficit with China, which reached a record $375 billion a year ago, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. "Xi Jinping is a nationalist. and he's not interested in giving the USA or anyone else a level playing field".

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