US and China urged to step back from escalating global trade war
Britain has urged the United States and China to step back from a full- scale trade war as Beijing threatened retaliation for the latest round of US tariffs.
The US administration of Donald Trump announced on Friday it was more than doubling duties on $ 200 billion dollars (£ 155bn) of Chinese imports from 10 per cent to 25 per cent.
The Chinese Commerce Ministry said it“deeply regrets” the move and warned it would take “necessary countermeasures”.
Downing Street, however, cautioned that a worsening trade war would have damaging consequences both for the two countries and the wider global economy.
“We are concerned about it. We are clear that nobody benefits from trade wars,” a No 10 spokeswoman said.
“Discussions between the two are ongoing and we hope they will find a resolution to avoid any further escalation.”
The spat erupted as US and Chinese negotiators were due to begin further talks in Washington aimed at resolving a dispute which has rocked financial markets and disrupted world trade.
American officials accused Beijing of backtracking on commitments made in earlier rounds of negotiations.
“China deeply regrets that it will have to take necessary counter measures ,” said a Commerce Ministry statement.
The latest increase extends 25 per cent US duties to a total of $ 250bn (£ 192bn) of Chinese imports.
Beijing retaliated for previous tariff hikes by raising duties on $ 110 bn (£ 85 bn) of American imports.
The negotiators met on Thursday evening. Then, after briefing Trump on the negotiations, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin dined with the leader of the Chinese delegation, Vice Premier Liu He.
Liu, speaking to Chinese state TV on his arrival in Washington, said he “came with sincerity.” He appealed to Washington to avoid more tariff hikes, saying they are “not a solution” and would harm the world.
“We should not hurt innocent people,” Liu told CCTV.
At the White House, Trump said he received “a beautiful letter” from Chinese President Xi Jinping and would “probably speak to him by phone.”
Chancellor Philip Hammond said an escalating dispute between the two countries could be “very dangerous” for the global economy.
Mr Hammond said the worsening dispute was a “worry”, although he remained “optimistic” that resolution would eventually be found.
“If there was a full- blown trade war between the world’s largest economies - that would be very serious indeed for growth prospects across the globe. That could be very dangerous,” he said.
“We have already seen a negative effect of forecasts for global growth largely caused by trade tensions between China and the US, so this is a worry.
“A full-blown trade war would have a very serious dampening effect on the whole global economy, including the UK, but I think we are a way away from that yet and I hope that this will be resolved.”
The two countries are sparring over allegations Beijing steals technology and pressures companies to hand over trade secrets.
0 Liu He meets Robert Lighthizer in Washington yesterday