US-China trade war: New tit-for-tat tariffs targeting $260bn in bilateral trade go into effect

The Sino-American trade conflict has entered a new stage, after the latest tit-for-tat tariff hikes, targeting in total some $260 billion-worth of bilaterally traded goods, has officially come into effect.

The new tax rates took effect at 12:01pm Beijing time on September 24, just as Washington’s clock passed midnight. Last week, immediately after Washington introduced tariffs on $200 billion-worth of Chinese imports, covering almost 6,000 items ranging from consumer goods to food products, Beijing retaliated by introducing levies on $60 billion-worth of US products.

China's counter-measures cover everything from smaller aircraft, computers and textiles, to chemicals, meat and wine. Over 3,500 US products will be subject to an additional 10 percent import tariff, while the second list of over 1,600 items will be subject to an additional five percent tariff.

Beijing blames American protectionist policies for the escalation of the trade conflict between the world's largest economies. Washington for its part maintains that China’s theft of intellectual property and technology, as well as wide trade imbalance, have led to the increased tensions.

The latest round of tariff hikes raises the stakes in the trade battle. In late July and August, the countries already introduced additional levies against roughly $50 billion-worth of each other’s goods. Despite fears voiced by America’s big business community, warning against the latest round of sanctions, Donald Trump on Friday threatened Beijing with further punitive measures, should China retaliate against Washington’s actions, instead of bowing down to the pressure. While Trump did not go into details, the White House previously expressed its readiness to target some $267 billion of Chinese goods.

“The trade war by China against the United States has been going on for years,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Sunday. “Here's what's different in this administration. To the extent one wants to call this a trade war, we are determined to win it.”

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