China Retaliates on Tariffs, Markets Shrug

September 18, 2018

By Carlo Versano

U.S. stocks appeared to shrug off an escalating trade war in early trading Tuesday after China said it would slap tariffs on $60 billion of American imports.

The retaliatory move came after the Trump administration said it would go forward with taxes on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports at an initial rate of 10 percent. That will increase to 25 percent next year.

Apple and other tech companies will be somewhat spared from this round. The list of Chinese products to be taxed did not include popular products like its AirPods and smart watches or other fitness trackers.

CEO Tim Cook, speaking Tuesday on ABC's Good Morning America, struck a conciliatory tone: "Trade is one of those things where it's not a zero-sum game," he said. "I'm optimistic that the two countries will sort this out and life will go on."

The $200 billion is in addition to $50 billion imposed earlier this year, bringing the grant total of Chinese goods to be taxed to nearly half of all imports from the country. Many business leaders, from manufacturing to farming to shipping sectors, warned these tariffs would lead to higher prices for American consumers.

But China, in immediately hitting $60 billion of U.S. goods with its own levies, was tacitly admitting the country is running out of imports to tax, given the trade imbalance between the superpowers. The U.S. currently imports about $505 billion in goods from China.

President Trump showed no signs of backing off in the trade war, tweeting Tuesday morning: "China has openly stated that they are actively trying to impact and change our election by attacking our farmers, ranchers and industrial workers because of their loyalty to me....There will be great and fast economic retaliation against China if our farmers, ranchers and/or industrial workers are targeted!"