US President Donald Trump said on April 5 that he was considering another $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods.
The White House said Trump has instructed the Office of the United States Trade Representative to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate under Section 301 of the US Trade Act of 1974 and, if so, to identify which products they should apply to.
“In light of China’s unfair retaliation, I have instructed the (United States Trade Representative) to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate,” Trump said in a statement.
He has also instructed his secretary of agriculture “to implement a plan to protect our farmers and agricultural interests”.
On April 3, the US announced new tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. China responded within hours by announcing $50 billion worth of tariffs on US goods including soybeans and small aircraft.
The moves follow US tariffs that were imposed earlier this year on Chinese steel and aluminum, which also prompted a response from China.
In response to Trump’s latest threat, a spokesman at China’s Ministry of Commerce said on April 6 it will fight “at any cost” and take “comprehensive countermeasures” if the US continues its unilateral, protectionist practices regardless of opposition from China and the international community.
“The conflict was initiated by the United States as provocation,” said the spokesperson.
“On Sino-US trade, China has made its position very clear. We do not want a trade war, but we are not afraid of such a war. Concerning the US statement, we will not only listen to the words but also watch the deeds,” he added.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang also made a similar pledge when asked to comment on Trump’s announcement, according to a document at the ministry’s website.
The protectionist moves by the US have been criticized by world leaders with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying on April 5 that “the answer to today’s problems is not protectionism and not isolationism”.
“I am a strong believer in multilateralism to address global problems. There is no way global problems can be addressed on a country-by-country basis. Global problems need to have global answers and global answers can only be implemented through multilateral frameworks,” the UN chief said.
Speaking to Chinese reporters before his trip to China for the annual Boao Forum for Asia, Guterres said: “The international framework that governs global trade is of extreme importance with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its center.”
“I am a true believer in free trade,” he said.
However, there are also drawbacks in globalization. For instance, inequalities have increased and many people are left behind.
The UN chief called for efforts to improve things, not to reject globalization but to improve it.
“To improve things, not to reject globalization, is the objective of Agenda 2030 and the objective of the WTO,” Guterres said, adding that the answer to today’s problems is international cooperation, and that the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development can be a very important instrument for that.
Reiterating China’s stance on free trade, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Moscow on April 5 that the US’ protectionist trade policies will affect the development of the world trade and economy, and the international community should boycott such moves of unilateralism to maintain global economic growth.
The recent US move has violated the rules of the WTO, poses a threat to the foundation of the global trade system and will certainly impact the normal development of world trade and the economy, Wang said at a press conference after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during his visit in Russia as the special envoy of President Xi Jinping.
As a sovereign nation with legitimate right of self-defense and a firm supporter of global trade mechanism, China is forced to take necessary countermeasures against the US tariff proposals, Wang said.
The top Chinese diplomat said the US made a wrong judgment for assuming that it could benefit from protectionism and therefore made a wrong decision in slapping trade sanctions against China.
In the context of the fragile growth of global trade, in applying its “America First” policy, the US frequently wages trade wars around the world, which is a typical action of unilateralism and a defiant expression of economic hegemony, Wang said.