Early Friday, China's Commerce Ministry announced tariffs on $3 billion worth of U.S. pork, aluminum scrap, apples, steel pipe, wine, ethanol, and other goods, saying President Trump's tariffs on imported steel and aluminum are "typical unilateralism and protectionism" and set a "very bad precedent." "China does not want to fight a trade war, but it is absolutely not afraid of a trade war," the Commerce Ministry said. "We are confident and capable of meeting any challenge. It is hoped that the U.S. side will be able to make a swift decision and not to drag bilateral economic and trade relations into danger."
China separately criticized Trump's announcement Thursday of tariffs on up to $60 billion in Chinese products, prompted by complaints of government-aided intellectual property theft. Beijing did not say how it would respond to that move, but the $3 billion in threatened tariffs announced Friday don't include items that would really hurt U.S. producers. "All the products on the list are small potatoes, and the real important ones are U.S. farm products like soybeans and sorghum," a government adviser in Beijing told The Wall Street Journal. "China is keeping its powder dry."
Global stock markets reflected the widespread unease at the looming trade war, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing down more than 700 points, or almost 3 percent, on Thursdays and Asian markets tumbling 3 percent in early trading Friday. A trade war with China would hurt U.S. consumers.
China did not say when its 25 percent tariff on U.S. pork and recycled aluminum and 15 percent tariff on the other goods might kick in, leaving time for negotiations. China exports only a small amount of steel and aluminum to the U.S. Late Thursday, the White House announced it will exempt allies like the EU, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Canada, and Australia from the steel and aluminum tariffs — accounting for two-thirds of U.S. steel imports and half of imported aluminum — until at least May 1. Peter Weber