Washington: The latest round of trade talks between China and the US have ended without a deal as President Donald Trump raised tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports and signaled that he was prepared for a prolonged economic fight.
Before the talks concluded on Friday evening, tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods were raised from 10 per cent to 25 per cent earlier at 12.01 a.m.
Trump, who only weeks ago predicted a signing ceremony for an “epic” trade deal with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, reclaimed his stance of threatening Beijing and insisting his approach would help the American economy, The New York Times reported.
In a series of tweets on Friday morning, Trump warned that he would tax nearly all of China’s imports if the country continued to backtrack on a trade deal.
“Tariffs will make our country much stronger, not weaker. Just sit back and watch,” he said, adding that the Chinese “should not renegotiate deals with the US at the last minute”.
Later in the afternoon, Trump suggested that the ball was in Beijing’s court, saying that “the US has imposed tariffs on China, which may or may not be removed depending on what happens with respect to future negotiations”.
Apart from raising tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, Trump also said that a process had begun to place the full 25 per cent duty on a further $325 billion worth of Chinese goods which could go into effect in a matter of weeks.
In a statement on Friday evening, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer confirmed that Trump had “ordered us to begin the process of raising tariffs on essentially all remaining imports from China, which are valued at approximately $300 billion”.
Friday’s talks were brief and focused mostly on the roots of the recent impasse. By early afternoon, the meeting had concluded and no further face-to-face negotiations were scheduled.
Trump called the discussions “candid and constructive” and China’s Vice Premier, Liu He said the talks went “fairly well”.
“Negotiations have not broken down,” Liu told the media, while noting that China was unwilling to make concessions on “principle issues”.
“I come here facing pressure… That expresses China’s greatest sincerity. And we want to resolve some of the differences we face honestly, confidently and rationally. I think there is hope.”
In response to the new tariffs, China has threatened to retaliate with its own “countermeasures”, which include ending purchases of American farm goods and establishing other non-tariff barriers for companies trying to gain access to the Chinese market.
Beijing and Washington have been locked in a bruising trade war since last July after Trump slapped an additional 25 per cent on an initial $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.
Trump followed it through with another 10 per cent on an additional $200 billion in products in September.
The Chinese hit back at the US by raising levies on American products worth $150 billion.
It is the levies imposed in September 2018 by Trump which have been increased to 25 per cent from Friday.