President Donald Trump effectively kicked off a trade war with China today (6 July) as tariffs on US$34bn of imports went live, putting further pressure on global stock markets as the Asian country retaliated.

A levy of 25% on imports from China, with food manufacturing equipment included on the list, now comes into being, with Trump vowing the tariff bundle could rise to $50bn within weeks and reach a final tally of more than $500bn if the leaders of the world’s two-largest economies fail to reach a compromise.

China’s Commerce Ministry responded, as was widely expected, with its own retaliatory tariffs on US goods, presumably matching the same penalties imposed by Trump in a tit-for-tat reaction. In June, China said it would put 25% tariffs on US goods, including pork, soybeans, rice and corn, on 6 July.

The ministry said in a statement: “The United States violated the World Trade Organization rules and launched the largest trade war in economic history to date. This kind of taxation is a typical trade bullyingism, which is seriously jeopardising the global industrial chain and value-chain security, hindering the pace of global economic recovery, triggering global market turmoil, and will affect more innocent multinational corporations, general enterprises and ordinary countries.”

At a media briefing, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang spoke of the “unfair tariff” actions.

“After the United States unfairly raised tariffs against China, China immediately put into effect raised tariffs on some U.S. goods,” Lu said.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData

Despite Trump’s murmurings over his relations and friendship with Chinese leaders, he went ahead and announced the proposed tariffs in June, saying at the time: “My great friendship with President Xi of China and our country’s relationship with China are both very important to me. Trade between our nations, however, has been very unfair, for a very long time. This situation is no longer sustainable.”

China previously described Trump’s tariff threats as “myopic”. But in June, China insisted it did not want a trade war with the US.

Today, the ministry added: “The Chinese side promised not to fight the first shot, but in order to defend the core interests of the people, they had to be forced to make the necessary counter-attacks.”