The latest trade escalation comes as officials from the world's two largest economies meet for tariff negotiations in Washington.
At 12.01 a.m. EDT on Thursday, the U.S. began collecting additional 25 percent duties on 279 Chinese import product categories identified by U.S. Trade Representative. Key products that will be hit by the duties include semiconductors, chemicals, plastics, motorbikes and electric scooters.
Beijing retaliated with its own fresh tariffs on $16 billion worth of additional imports from the U.S. including fuel, steel products, autos and medical equipment. The levies took effect the same time that the U.S. tariffs were imposed on Thursday, state news agency Xinhua reported, citing an announcement from the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council.
China "resolutely opposes" the latest tariffs by the U.S. and will fight back against the latest duties, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said in an online statement, adding that Beijing will file a complaint to the World Trade Organization against the U.S.
The latest American tariffs — which come on the back of $34 billion worth of Chinese goods that were implemented in July — have spurred U.S. importers to place additional orders to be shipped and delivered ahead.
That has already contributed to higher ocean and air freight rates, and elevated warehousing costs in America, said Henry Ko, managing director for Asia at Flexport, a U.S.-based freight forwarding company. Overall, the entire supply chain will incur additional costs, added Ko.
"If trade war actually continues, prices for products across many industries will increase," Ko told CNBC.