US-China trade war escalates with biggest sets of tariffs

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Washington (IANS): The ongoing trade war between the US and China further escalated on Monday as the two economic powerhouses slapped each other with the largest rounds of tariffs yet, unleashing punitive duties now on roughly half of their traded goods.

President Donald Trump's new 10 per cent tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods went into effect on Monday, spanning thousands of products, including food seasonings, baseball gloves, network routers and industrial machinery parts.

It immediately prompted Beijing to respond with tariffs on $60 billion in American goods, approaching the point of running out of American products to target, The Washington Post reported. 

The latest levies from Beijing affect more than 5,200 kinds of American imports, including chemicals, industrial wares and medical instruments. 

Neither of the world's two largest economies showed signs of backing down and there are no further trade talks scheduled to resolve the dispute. 

As the new tariffs hit, the Chinese government released a report accusing the Trump administration of a foreign policy based on "trade bullying" and "attempting to impose its own interests on China through extreme pressure".

"The new administration of the US government has trumpeted 'America First' since taking office in 2017, and has abandoned the fundamental norms of mutual respect and equal consultation that guide international relations," Xinhua news agency quoted the report as saying.

"Rather, it has brazenly preached unilateralism, protectionism and economic hegemony, making false accusations against many countries and regions, particularly China."

Thousands of goods now face border taxes of up to 10 per cent, including grocery store staples, household objects and industrial equipment. 

Economists expect the cost of food, clothing, furniture, toys and cars to swell, triggering layoffs across industries in both countries.

Earlier this month, Trump had warned that retaliation from Beijing would spark another set of tariffs on $267 billion in Chinese goods, erecting financial barriers on virtually everything the US buys from the nation. In 2017, that order reached $505 billion. 

The Asian giant imported $130 billion in US goods last year but officials have said China will keep fighting back with "qualitative" measures. 

The US tariffs are meant to punish China for what the Trump administration says are unfair trade practices, such as intellectual property theft.

Beijing has rejected the US assertions, accusing Washington of protectionism and bullying.

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