Team Trump and China slapped tit-for-tat tariffs on $34 billion worth of United States and Chinese imports on Friday, with Beijing accusing Washington of triggering the "largest-scale trade war" as the world's two biggest economies escalated their battle.
United States tariffs on $34bn (£25.7bn) of Chinese goods have come into effect, signalling the start of a trade war between the world's two largest economies.
While Friday's tariffs will likely hit consumers eventually, Trump's threat to impose tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese exports to the United States would likely result in more direct pain for consumers. However, if and when the war escalates, tariffs would go up on the daily necessities Americans have got used to buying cheap. "For example, they can quarantine [U.S.] products for a long time".
"Some of it is priced in but then this is an ongoing story and what can definitively be said that we are entering a period of much greater uncertainty than before", said Neil Mellor, a senior currency strategist at BNY Mellon in London. The cumulative goods trade deficit with China through the first five months of the year totaled $152.2 billion, compared with $138.5 billion in the same period last year.
"There are no winners in a trade war, " William Zarit, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, said in a statement published just moments before the 12:01 deadline. -China trade involves parts and supplies, rather than final goods - so the most immediate effect will be felt by the companies making the products, not the consumers finding them on store shelves.
"Whether it's through trade war or other means, the end goal is to make China subservient to the United States, " said He Weiwen, vice president of the Center for China and Globalization, in Beijing. "What we will likely see happen in the short-term is apples that were destined for export markets will instead overhang the USA market", she said. The rest of the world would suffer collateral damage, even if the USA were to refrain from penalising imports from other countries.
"For soybean producers like me this is a direct financial hit", Brent Bible, a soy and corn producer in Romney, Indiana, said in a statement from the advocacy group Farmers for Free Trade.
China retaliated with tariffs on a similar amount of goods.
Chinese shares led a recovery by Asian market, partly helped by the perception that the tariff measures were already priced in though worries about what lay ahead for global markets boosted appetite for perceived safe-haven assets such as government debt and the Japanese yen.
The Trump administration initiated the dispute in April, announcing the tariffs and accusing China of using "unfair" tactics to build a large trade surplus with the USA and expropriating American technology.
Trump has charged the country with stealing US intellectual property and for subsidizing steel to artificially low prices, giving it unfair trade advantage. "I think products made in China are the best", said one shopper in a Beijing grocery story, who gave his name as Yang.
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