The U.S. and China on Friday launched tit-for-tat tariffs on each other’s imports, the opening shots in what Beijing called “the largest trade war in economic history.”
At the stroke of midnight Washington time, the U.S. pulled the trigger on 25% duties on $34 billion in Chinese machinery, electronics and hi-tech equipment, including autos, computer hard drives and LEDs.
The Foreign Ministry in Beijing said retaliatory measures “took effect immediately,” with state news agency Xinhua confirming they involved 25% tariffs on an equal amount of goods.
Economists have warned that the escalating trade frictions could throttle global growth. Friday’s tariffs could just be the opening skirmishes in the trade war, as U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to hit $450 billion in Chinese goods, the vast majority of imports. Months of dialogue between the two economic superpowers appeared to have failed, with Mr. Trump warning just hours before the tariffs came into effect that Washington was ready to target more Chinese goods. Mr. Trump has for years slammed, what he describes as, Beijing’s underhand economic treatment of the U.S.