…As U.S. urges global fight against Islamic State, outside Middle East***
The U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday, escalated the trade war with China, announcing he would hike tariffs on some 300 billion dollars’ worth of Chinese goods to 10 per cent, effective from September 1.
The measures are on top of the 25-per-cent tariffs that have already been imposed incrementally over the past year on 250 billion dollars’ worth of Chinese products.
When they take effect, all Chinese goods coming into the U.S. will be subject to punitive tariffs.
The announcement follows talks between the world’s two largest economies in Shanghai this week, the first time negotiators met since Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed at the G20 to pause further tariff hikes and get back to the table. The pause was short lived.
Speaking to reporters, Trump said that the new tariffs could go “beyond 25 per cent,” though he was not currently planning to do so.
“If they don’t want to trade with us, that’s fine with me, it would save a lot of money,” Trump said outside the White House, as he was set to depart for a campaign rally.
He also accused China of devaluing its currency.
In announcing the new tariffs, Trump said China had retreated from its pledge to increase purchases of U.S. agricultural products and reneged on a promise to stop the sale of Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, to the U.S.
The comments were an admission that key concessions Trump had touted had failed to materialize, and the announcement further indicated the trade war was not abating.
“Until such time as there is a deal, we’ll be taxing them,” the president said.
He added that he was not concerned by a decline on U.S. markets after his latest tariff announcement.
U.S. stocks slipped as news of the new tariffs, which were not widely expected, broke with the S&P 500 index closing down nearly 1 per cent.
Trump insisted he had no intention of cancelling future rounds of trade talks, saying he looked forward to “positive dialogue” with China.
The tariff announcement comes just a day after the U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates, citing a global slowdown and the uncertainties of the trade war, in particular the tariffs.
Farmers, a key group in Trump’s base of supporters, have been taking hits in the trade war.
The president has unleashed this year a 16-billion-dollar aid plan for the agricultural sector, coming on top of a 12-billion-dollar plan the previous year.
China is also believed to be taking steps to bolster its own economy, which has shown signs of slowing.
Trump has railed against China’s alleged unfair trade practices, including blocking market access, and problems of intellectual property theft.
He alleged that the sides were close to concluding a comprehensive trade deal three months ago, but China pulled back at the last moment.
Broadcaster CNBC reported that Trump made the latest announcement on tariffs after receiving a briefing from the delegation to the Shanghai talks, which was led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
In another development, the U.S. also raised the alarm over the activities of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group, warning that IS still remains a serious threat in spite of the defeat of the physical caliphate in Syria and Iraq, while cautioning that al-Qaeda has bounced back to its peak levels of strength.
Nathan Sales, the U.S. chief coordinator for counter-terrorism, told reporters in Washington that a global effort was needed to push back against Islamic State in places such as Afghanistan and across Africa, notably in Nigeria.
He said that the U.S. could not wage the war alone.
IS has “increased the lethality of attacks” and “expanded into new areas,” Sales said.
Meanwhile, James Jeffrey, the envoy to the international coalition to fight Islamic State, said that in areas of Syria and Iraq, IS still had roughly 15,000 fighters.
Some 2,000 foreign extremist fighters remain in the custody of the U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), with the U.S. urging countries around the world to take back their citizens and bring them to justice.
According to Jeffrey, Islamic State maintains strongholds in Syria in territories outside the U.S. and SDF field of operations in the north-east, including regions controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
As the world’s focus in recent years has turned to Islamic State, al-Qaeda has been able to make gains, Sales cautioned.
“Al-Qaeda is as strong as it has ever been,” Sales said.
U.S. officials have continued to decline to comment on reports that Hamza bin Laden, the son of the former al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, was killed.