China tariff threat could be a boon for Gulf oil exports

US President Donald Trump- shown here at the White House earlier this month- has taken a tough stance on trade in his second year in office

Staff members set up Chinese and US flags for a meeting between Chinese Transport Minister Li Xiaopeng and US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao at the Ministry of Transport of China in Beijing, China April 27, 2018.

The US president said in a White House statement on Monday evening that he had instructed the US Trade Representative's office to identify $200 billion in imports from the Asian nation for additional tariffs of 10 percent.

"This practice of extreme pressure and blackmail deviates from the consensus reached by two parties through many negotiations, and it also disappointed the global community", said a forcefully worded statement from the Commerce Ministry.

But Beijing faces challenges in retaliating directly: China ships far more goods to the United States ($505 billion past year, according to U.S. figures) than come back in the opposite direction ($130 billion).

The move comes after intense negotiations between top USA and Chinese trade officials in both Beijing and Washington, DC.

China had offered to ramp up purchases of American goods by $70 billion to help cut its yawning trade surplus with the United States, whereas Trump had demanded a $200 billion deficit cut.

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"If the USA becomes irrational and issues this list, China will have no choice but to adopt strong countermeasures of the same amount and quality", the ministry statement said.

"As China hawks, like Lighthizer and (Peter) Navarro, appear to have gained power within the Trump administration lately, an all-out trade war now seems more inevitable", said Yasunari Ueno, chief market analyst at Mizuho Securities in Japan.

Trump once again touted his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

China imported $129.89 billion of US goods previous year, while the USA purchased $505.47 billion of Chinese products, according to USA data.

Trump has been insisting that China has been unfairly benefitting from a trade imbalance with the United States for years.

The move follows China's announcement that it would retaliate in kind to Trump's initial decision to hit $50 billion worth of Chinese goods with a 25 percent tariff.

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Markets are sliding today after president Donald Trump escalated America's trade dispute with China.

Then China followed suit, unveiling 25 per cent duties on US$50 billion in USA imports - matching the U.S. rates. "Rather than altering those practices, it is now threatening U.S. companies, workers and farmers who have done nothing wrong".

"It is very unfortunate that instead of eliminating these unfair trading practices China said that it intends to impose unjustified tariffs targeting United States workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses".

Fears the spat between the world's two largest economies could intensify added to pressure on oil prices, which extended Friday's big fall into the start of week, while the dollar retreated from a seven-month high against a basket of currencies. "It did not meet the current development trend of the world, harmed the interests of the people and enterprises of China and the United States, and harmed the interests of the people of the world". "At the president's direction, USTR is preparing the proposed tariffs to offset China's action".

The intellectual property sanctions were the latest in a spate of protectionist measures unveiled by Trump in recent months that included tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to the United States and a tough rhetoric on trade negotiations from North America to Asia. "I think it is going to make the chances of a negotiated settlement in the next 17 days that much hard", our correspondent said.

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