The White House is reportedly poised to announce up to $60 billion in new duties on Chinese goods later on Thursday. The Trump administration has previously claimed China is responsible for encouraging the theft and transfer of intellectual property away from U.S. businesses.
"Past experience with tariffs is that if one country starts then there is retaliation and the overall impact is negative for everybody," Clemens Fuest, president at Germany's IFO Institute, told CNBC Thursday.
Fuest said while the threat of an escalating trade war over the coming months is "dampening the mood" in Berlin, the U.S. is just as likely to find itself suffering the economic consequences of global tariffs.
"I think it is a very bad idea," he concluded.