Donald Trump’s mercantilist fantasy about fighting a trade war edged closer to reality Sunday after China imposed retaliatory tariffs on a raft of U.S. food imports.
Around $3 billion in U.S. goods will be subject to duty of up to 25 percent, measures introduced in response to the steel and aluminum tariffs Trump announced last month.
Some 128 U.S. foods, including almonds, pistachios, wine, and frozen pork, will be subject to Beijing’s levy, which went into effect Monday, according to China’s ministry of commerce.
The ministry said it was imposing the measures to “safeguard the interests of the country and its industry” and called for negotiations as “cooperation is the only correct option” for the two economic superpowers.
Xinhua, the state-run news agency, published an editorial Monday warning that any economic pain inflicted on China would “be done at the expense of enormous American interests.”
The Global Times, also allied to China’s ruling elite, warned the “sparks” of a trade war “have already started to fly.”
Those tariffs would likely be imposed in retaliation for China stealing intellectual property from U.S. companies, a charge Beijing has denied.
It is unclear how Beijing will react to further tariffs on their goods, though the China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said last week, “China does not want to fight a trade war with anyone. But if anyone forces us to fight one, we will neither be scared nor hide.”
First proposed 10 days ago, Sunday’s tariffs by China are designed to hit U.S. farming states, viewed as strongholds of Trump support.
The president, who has long bemoaned the yawning $375 billion U.S. trade surplus with China, has yet to react to the news from Beijing.
Cover image: Wine from the United States is displayed next to Chinese wine at a supermarket in Beijing, Friday, March 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)