U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to hit US$60-billion worth of Chinese goods with tariffs threatens to spark a protracted trade war between the world’s two largest economies and send a shudder through international commerce.
The move – which may also include restricting Chinese investment in the United States and launching a World Trade Organization case against Beijing – is retaliation for China forcibly taking, and sometimes allegedly stealing, U.S. technology.
It is also meant to start erasing Washington’s US$385-billion trade deficit with Beijing, which Mr. Trump blames for the hollowing out of the U.S. manufacturing sector.
It is the most aggressive act in the President’s protectionist trade agenda, a key plank of the nationalistic platform that carried him to power. It comes on the heels of hefty U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, primarily aimed at stopping cheap Chinese metal from getting into the U.S. market. The United States is also renegotiating NAFTA with Canada and Mexico, and reopening its trade deal with South Korea.
The tariffs are expected to target high-tech and heavy-manufacturing sectors, including mobile communications, electronic equipment, aerospace, pharmaceuticals and rail components.
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