The world economy lurched closer to an all-out trade war as the Trump administration accused China of threatening U.S. economic interests and as the European Union made good on its threat to hit American goods with retaliatory tariffs.
A scathing report, posted late Tuesday by the White House, blamed Beijing for hijacking intellectual property and pursuing destructive industrial policies, saying the nation’s spectacular economic growth “has been achieved in significant part through aggressive acts, policies and practices that fall outside of global norms and rules.”
“Given the size of China’s economy and the extent of its market-distorting policies, China’s economic aggression now threatens not only the U.S. economy, but also the global economy as a whole,” according to the 35-page document.
The White House report came out just before the EU triggered the first phase of retaliation against the U.S. over its metal-import tariffs, approving a 25% duty on 2.8 billion euros ($3.2 billion) of U.S. products including Harley-Davidson Inc. motorcycles and Levi Strauss & Co. jeans. It opens up a second contentious trade front for Trump, who ordered U.S. officials on Monday to consider imposing tariffs on an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports — with another $200 billion to be added if Beijing retaliates.
The EU countermeasures will hit U.S. consumer, agricultural and steel products in many key Republican constituencies, putting pressure on Trump ahead of crucial midterm elections in November.
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