China vows ‘necessary countermeasures’ on Trump tariffs

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Vice Premier Liu He (right) with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer earlier this month

Beijing has said it will respond in kind if President Trump imposes higher tariffs on Chinese goods on Friday.

The Chinese Commerce Ministry said that if the US tariff measures are implemented, it would take “necessary countermeasures”.

The warning comes as US and Chinese officials prepare to meet over the next two days.

On Wednesday President Trump tweeted that Vice Premier Liu He “is now coming to the U.S. to make a deal. We’ll see.”

On Sunday Mr Trump said on Twitter the US would more than double tariffs on $200bn (£152bn) of Chinese goods on Friday and could introduce fresh tariffs.

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer later accused China of backtracking on commitments in trade talks.

However, he insisted a deal with Beijing was still possible.

The US stock market is down over 2% since Sunday but did not react to the comments on Wednesday from China.

The Chinese Commerce Ministry said in its statement: “The escalation of trade friction is not in the interests of the people of the two countries and the people of the world.

“The Chinese side deeply regrets that if the US tariff measures are implemented, China will have to take necessary countermeasures.”

Mr Trump’s claim that Beijing is looking to strike a trade agreement followed an earlier tweet, in which he claimed to know why China had reneged on its promises.

He said that if a Democrat was elected in the 2020 US presidential election, Beijing hoped the new administration would take a softer line on trade.

‘Not good for China!’

He added that he was comfortable either with making a deal or with leaving the tariffs in place.

“We’ll see, but I am very happy with over $100 Billion a year in Tariffs filling US coffers…great for US, not good for China!”

After imposing duties on billions of dollars worth of one another’s goods last year, the US and China have been negotiating and in recent weeks, appeared to be close to striking a deal.

But according to reports, US officials have become frustrated by China’s attempt to reword the draft agreement in its final stages.

Mr Lighthizer released an official notice on Wednesday that duty rates on a vast array of Chinese-made electrical equipment, machinery, car parts and furniture would jump to 25% after midnight on Friday.

The US president originally imposed a 10% tariff on these goods in September that was due to rise in January, but postponed this as negotiations advanced.

Tariffs are taxes paid by importers on foreign goods, so a 25% tariff imposed by the US on Chinese goods would be paid by American companies.

Fears about a further escalation caused a slump in world stock markets towards the end of last year.

The IMF has warned a full-blown trade war would weaken the global economy.

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