China said it's rolling out new tariffs on meat, fruit and other products from the United States as retaliation against taxes approved by U.S. President Donald Trump on imported steel and aluminum.
The Chinese finance ministry said in a statement that the new tariffs begin Monday. The announcement follows warnings Chinese officials have made for several weeks in an escalating trade dispute between the world's two largest economies.
China's Customs Tariff Commission is increasing the tariff rate on pork products and aluminum scrap by 25 percent. It's also imposing a new 15 percent tariff on 120 other imported U.S. commodities, from almonds to apples and berries.
In a separate statement, the Ministry of Commerce said China took the step after the U.S. refused to respond to a Chinese request made on Mach 26 for negotiations in accordance with World Trade Organization rules.
The ministry said the Chinese measures were aimed at balancing the losses caused to China by US tariffs on steel and aluminum. It said the U.S. measures taken on national security grounds against a selected number of countries seriously violated WTO rules including on non-discrimination.
The ministry said it hopes that the US will withdraw its measures violating WTO rules as soon as possible so that trade between China and the US will return to a normal track.
It goes on to say that cooperation is the only right choice between the world’s two largest economies. It urges the two sides to resolve each other's concerns through dialogue and consultation, achieve common development and avoid further damage to bilateral cooperation.
The Chinese tariffs mirror Trump's 25 percent charge on imported steel and 15 percent hike on aluminum. Trump has also announced separate plans to slap tariffs on nearly $50 billion in Chinese imports. Trump's planned tariffs are partly aimed at punishing Beijing for allegedly stealing American technology and pressuring U.S. companies to hand it over.
But the Chinese response could end up hurting American ranchers and farmers, many of whom are from regions that voted for Trump in 2016.
U.S. farmers shipped nearly $20 billion of goods to China in 2017. The American pork industry sent $1.1 billion in products, making China the No. 3 market for U.S. pork.