President Trump's tariffs went out to the world with blinking lights that essentially say: "Don't like this?"
But critics say he has missed an opportunity to build an effective worldwide coalition against China's trade practices, angering allies in Europe, North America and Asia by threatening to slap blanket tariffs on steel and aluminum imports - even if exemptions are being carved out - and acting unilaterally this week in a way that could undermine the global trade system.
No one knows whether his tactics will succeed or backfire. Instead, he's claiming the authority to put punitive measures on whatever countries and products he wants.
Thursday's announcement marked the end of a seven-month investigation into the hardball tactics China has used to challenge USA supremacy in technology, including, the US says, dispatching hackers to steal commercial secrets and demanding that US companies hand over trade secrets in exchange for access to the Chinese market. "They have offered concessions", said Mary Lovely, a Syracuse University economist and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. It took the Chinese only a few hours to retaliate by announcing countertariffs.
The American tariffs have been criticized by many countries. It doesn't mean even a trade war.
"We're very concerned about what might happen as far as a tariff", he said.
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Senior White House economic advisor Everett Eissenstat said the new duties would target sectors where "China has sought to acquire an advantage through the unfair acquisition or forced technology transfer from United States companies".
Foreign leaders and business executives don't know how to read Trump's unpredictability on trade. The report announcing the tariffs cited instances of U.S. companies being forced to move patents to China or partner with a Chinese firm in order to do business in the country.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the USS Mustin traveled close to Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands and carried out manoeuvring operations. "I spent most of the day on the phone with anxious clients".
Primed for economic combat, President Donald Trump set in motion tariffs on as much as $60 billion in Chinese imports to the US on Thursday and accused the Chinese of high-tech thievery, picking a fight that could push the global heavyweights into a trade war. "The President has fought very hard for advancing opportunities, economic opportunities for American businesses, but also the American people", she said.
As Australian shares tumbled, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull played down fears of a full-scale global trade war.
"There are many, many more workers employed in the use of aluminum and steel than there are in the production of aluminum and steel", said Kennedy.
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While the full details of the tariffs have yet to be released, it's clear they'll cause at least two immediate problems.
Those numbers are likely to go up, as China doubles down on policies that could lead to the acquisition of foreign technology and information - like the controversial new cybersecurity law that went into effect past year.
Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said he was troubled to hear that South Korea would be initially exempted from the steel and aluminum tariffs. It sets up yet another dramatic deadline.
This results in lower exports and a higher trade deficit. But he has also shown a lot of willingness to make a big announcement and then quickly scale back how bad the bite is.
"It now provides us with the breathing room to find a more permanent solution".
Arthur Kroeber, managing director of Gavekal Dragonomics, said Beijing was sending a "carefully calibrated" message that it will stand up to Trump, while trying not to escalate the spat into a confrontation that could seriously threaten the global trading system.
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