'Reckless': Trump escalates trade war with another $US200b in Chinese tariffs

The United States has made a decision to impose tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports from China after efforts to negotiate a solution to the trade dispute failed to reach an agreement, senior administration officials said on Tuesday.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer writes that these new tariffs come as a response to how Beijing retaliated to the initial tariffs - quickly implementing matching tariffs on the same amount of US exports to China. It's unclear what that action could include.

World stock markets sank and the dollar rose Wednesday after Washington threatened to hammer Beijing with tariffs on a further $200 billion of Chinese imports, ratcheting up the global trade war. The index had gained for the past two sessions, having enjoyed a lull from the trade war fears that lashed global markets last week.

China's assistant commerce minister Li Chenggang said earlier on Wednesday that the latest proposed tariffs harms the World Trade Organisation (WTO) system and hurts globalisation. The latest list hits items that USA households buy, including electric lamps, apple juice and fish sticks. "There is no justification for such action", he said in a statement.

Members of Congress are increasingly questioning Trump's aggressive trade policies, warning that tariffs on imports raise prices for consumers and expose USA farmers and manufacturers to retaliation overseas.

That prompted fears it might go beyond matching Washington's duty increases by disrupting operations for United States companies in China.

The list is subject to a two-month public comment period before taking effect.

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After the list was released, China's Commerce Ministry said in a statement that it could not accept the additional tariffs proposed by the U.S., adding that it was "shocked" by the decision.

"Although I have supported the administration's targeted efforts to combat China's technology transfer regime, tonight's announcement appears reckless and is not a targeted approach", said Sen.

Beijing's lopsided trade balance with the United States means it will quickly run out of imports for retaliation.

Trade rhetoric has been escalating between the USA and the rest of the world, including key American allies.

The USTR, the federal agency that oversees global trade policy and negotiations, said it was responding to Beijing's decision to retaliate instead of changing its policies.

"The Chinese government as always will have no choice but to take the necessary countermeasures", said China's ministry of commerce in a statement, without elaborating further. "China has a million and one ways to retaliate".

European stock markets are expected to follow Asia's lead, as economics warn that a trade war would cause serious economic harm.

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