Some of Trump’s fellow Republicans in the U.S. Congress lashed out at his actions.
“Tariffs not only hurt our farmers, ranchers and airplane manufacturers, but they also harm every American consumer. We should be working with our allies to isolate China rather than escalate a trade war,” said Senator Jerry Moran, who represents the agriculture-heavy state of Kansas.
China’s soymeal futures fell more than 2 percent on Friday afternoon before recovering most of those losses amid initial market confusion over whether Beijing had actually implemented the tariffs, which it later confirmed it had.
Friday’s long-expected China tariff volley fuelled fear that a prolonged and escalating battle would hurt global trade, investment and growth, while also damaging U.S. farm exports and potentially driving up food prices in China.
For example, U.S.-based audio company Sonos Inc noted in an initial public offering on Friday its performance “may be materially harmed” by trade restrictions.
“Trade war is never a solution,” Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said at a news briefing with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov in Sofia before a summit with 16 central and eastern European countries.
“China would never start a trade war but if any party resorts to an increase of tariffs, then China will take measures in response to protect development interests,” he said.
There was no sign of renewed negotiations between U.S. and Chinese officials in the run-up to Friday, business sources in Washington and Beijing said.
The dispute has roiled financial markets including stocks, currencies and the global trade of commodities from soybeans to coal in recent weeks.
China lodged a case with the World Trade Organization against the United States, its commerce ministry said on Friday.
White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett said in an interview on Fox Business Network on Friday Trump is “going to deliver better (trade) deals”. He said that, for now, “he’s called the bluff of other countries that have basically been abusing” U.S. companies and workers.
U.S. stocks shook off the tariffs, which investors said had been well-anticipated and priced in. The S&P 500 rose to a two-week high on Friday, partly buoyed by strong U.S. jobs growth. However, investors said a significant escalation in tension would cause worries to set in.
China’s commerce ministry called the U.S. actions “a violation of world trade rules” and said it had “initiated the largest-scale trade war in economic history”.
Trump has railed against Beijing for intellectual property theft, barriers to entry for U.S. businesses and a $375 billion U.S. trade deficit with China.
A China central bank adviser said the planned U.S. import tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods – $34 billion plus a planned follow-on list worth $16 billion – would cut China’s economic growth by 0.2 percentage points.