(CN) — The White House on Friday announced a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports, escalating a trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.
The move has been several weeks in the making, and China has said that it will retaliate with $50 billion in tariffs in response, rattling financial markets.
But President Donald Trump was unbowed, saying he has no choice but to clamp down on what he calls China’s unfair trade practices.
“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,” Trump said in a lengthy statement released Friday morning.
To support his claim, Trump pointed to a March report from the United States Trade Representative that purported said China has long engaged in a number of practices around the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology, and that these practices “harm our economic and national security and deepen our already massive trade imbalance with China.”
The president said the goods affected by the tariffs include those related to China’s Made in China 2025 strategic plan “to dominate the emerging high-technology industries that will drive future economic growth for China, but hurt economic growth for the United States and many other countries.
“The United States can no longer tolerate losing our technology and intellectual property through unfair economic practices,” Trump said.
China’s Commerce Ministry said Friday it will scrap deals to buy more American farm goods and other exports as part of efforts to defuse a sprawling dispute over its trade surplus and technology policy.
A ministry statement gave no details, but a $50 billion list of possible targets announced in April included soybeans, light aircraft, orange juice, whiskey and beef. Much of the impact would fall on Trump’s rural supporters.
“The Chinese side doesn’t want to fight a trade war, but facing the shortsightedness of the U.S. side, China has to fight back strongly,” the statement said. “We will immediately introduce tax measures of equal scale and equal strength, and all economic and trade achievements reached by the two sides will be invalidated.”
Friday’s announcement comes in the aftermath of Trump’s nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his push for China to maintain economic pressure on the North.
Trump has already slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico, Europe and Japan, drawing a rebuke from U.S. allies.
He said the U.S. will respond to any retaliatory tariffs imposed by China pursuing additional tariffs on Chinese goods.