03/03/2018, 14.20

Beijing's first response to the increase in US duties was 'measured'

Trump's decision to impose duties on steel and aluminum imports is also provoking reactions in Europe, but if it represents the beginning of a global trade war it is likely to depend on China's reaction.

Washington (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The surprise announcement by US president Donald Trump last Thursday, that the United States will impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, has shaken stock markets, angering US allies throughout the world and also arousing criticism from Republican Senators and Congressmen, but if it represents the beginning of a global trade war it is likely that it depends on China's reaction.

The first response from Beijing yesterday was measured. China has urged the United States "to respect the rules of multilateral trade and to make contributions to international trade and to the economic order". But Chinese officials had previously warned that they are willing to do what they deem necessary to "defend our rights" if Trump were to introduce additional measures that hit the country more heavily and directly.

In addition to the wide range of economic response options at its disposal, China could target US geopolitical interests if Trump escalates commercial tensions. China could, for example, respond to a heavier American commercial campaign, slowing its cooperation in implementing sanctions against North Korea, a key component of the "maximum pressure" that the Trump administration wants to bring Pyongyang to the negotiating table on its nuclear programs.

China could also respond to the increase in trade tensions also by increasing conflict on the seas of Southeast China.

From the western front, then, the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker announced Europe's "countermeasures". The EU has said that its response will be rapid, firm and proportionate.

A first measure concerns duties on Harley-Davidson motorcycles (HOG), bourbon whiskey and Levi's jeans as retaliation to taxes announced by Trump on steel and aluminum imports. They are, said a spokesman for the Commission, the first targets for the "countermeasures" that the European Union is preparing.

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