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China responds to Trump tariffs with proposed list of 128 US products to target

  • China on Friday announced plans for reciprocal tariffs on 128 U.S. products that include pork, wine, fruit and steel.
  • Beijing said it will take measures against the U.S. goods in two stages if it cannot reach an agreement with Washington.

The world's second-largest economy has responded to President Donald Trump's controversial trade tariffs.

China's commerce ministry proposed a list of 128 U.S. products as potential retaliation targets, according to a statement on its website posted Friday morning.

The U.S. goods, which had an import value of $3 billion in 2017, include wine, fresh fruit, dried fruit and nuts, steel pipes, modified ethanol, and ginseng, the ministry said. Those products could see a 15 percent duty, while a 25 percent tariff could be imposed on U.S. pork and recycled aluminium goods, according to the statement.

The statement did not go into greater detail. U.S. agricultural products, particularly soybeans, have been flagged as the biggest area of potential retaliation by Chinese President Xi Jinping's administration.

President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping leave after an opera performance at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping leave after an opera performance at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017.

Beijing will take measures against the 128 U.S. goods in two stages if it cannot reach an agreement with Washington, the ministry said, adding that it could take legal action under World Trade Organization rules.

Asian stock markets took a dive on the news, with Japan's Nikkei index sliding as much as 4 percent.

The Friday response from Beijing is relatively measured, experts told CNBC.

The decision to target $3 billion in U.S. imports is significant, "but it's not a lot in terms of the total U.S.-China relationship," said economist Tony Nash, who is CEO and founder of data analytics firm Complete Intelligence.

Chinese imports from the U.S. are expected to hit $172 billion this year, he pointed out.

Beijing warns on damaging US actions 

Recent U.S. trade actions severely damage the multilateral trading system and disturb the international trading order, China's commerce ministry said, urging Washington to resolve its issues with Beijing to avoid harming the bilateral relationship.

Trump signed an executive memorandum on Thursday that will impose tariffs on up to $60 billion in Chinese imports. "This is the first of many" trade actions, the president said. The new measures will primarily target certain products in the technology sector where Beijing holds an advantage over Washington.

That followed Trump's executive order earlier this month that imposed broad duties on foreign aluminum and steel imports — an action that many said could trigger a global trade war.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

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