Renewed U.S.-China trade spat boosts safety demand for yen

Global stock markets skidded Tuesday after President Donald Trump threatened to put tariffs on another $200 billion in imports from China, and the Chinese government said it would retaliate, bringing tensions between the world's two largest economies closer to a boil.

Trump insists that China has been unfairly benefiting from a trade imbalance with the U.S. for years. Those tariffs were matched by China's threat to penalize on US exports, a move that drew the president's ire.

"Further action must be taken to encourage China to change its unfair practices, open its market to United States goods, and accept a more balanced trade relationship with the United States. Rather than altering those practices, it is now threatening United States companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong", he said.

"These tariffs will go into effect if China refuses to change its practices, and also if it insists on going forward with the new tariffs that it has recently announced", Trump said in a statement.

China's Commerce Ministry on Tuesday criticised the latest threat of tariffs, saying it was an "act of extreme pressure and blackmail that deviates from the consensus reached by both parties after many negotiations, and is a disappointment to the global community". Last week, the USA levied tariffs of 25 percent on $50 billion of Chinese goods. American officials said they would suspend threatened tariff increases on up to $150 billion of Chinese goods.

However, none of the tariffs announced by the United States on Monday will take effect until industries and consumers have a chance to make their views known in a 60-day public comment period. Chips from non-Chinese wafer fabs sold to American companies that pass through those facilities likely would not be hit.

"Trump appears to be employing a similar tactic he used with North Korea, by blustering first in order to gain an advantage in negotiations", said Kota Hirayama, senior emerging markets economist at SMBC Nikko Securities in Tokyo.

"When you get in a fight with your biggest buyer of agriculture, and the world's largest soybean buyer (China), even if (it) were to buy 20 percent less, it's a big deal", said Dan Basse, president of Chicago-based consultancy AgResource Co.

"Chinese leaders over these past few weeks have been claiming openness and globalization, but it's a joke". "It's an unprecedented level of larceny". With Canada, Mexico, the European Union and China all promising retaliatory measures at the same time, America's retailers, farmers, autoworkers and American employees throughout the global value chain are at risk. "This is predatory economics 101".

Trump is gambling that Beijing has the most to lose.

"I reminded him that's not fair competition", Mr Pompeo said.

China doesn't import enough goods from the U.S.to match the scale of Trump's proposal but could adopt other methods.

President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he leaves a meeting Monday in the East Room of the White House in Washington.

Wall Street has viewed the escalating trade tensions with wariness, fearful they could strangle the economic growth achieved during Trump's watch. Gary Cohn, Trump's former top economic adviser, said last week that a "tariff battle" could result in price inflation and consumer debt - "historic ingredients for an economic slowdown".

Mr Pompeo on Monday described U.S. actions as "economic diplomacy", which, when done right, strengthens national security and global alliances, he added. "We will continue using all available tools to create a better and fairer trading system for all Americans".

The US lists have now been released and include aerospace parts and machinery, and it too has $16bn-worth of other Chinese goods "under review".

The ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China knocked the yuan to 6.4660 per dollar, its weakest in more than five months in the offshore market.


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