Asian markets fall as US, China renew tariff threat

Cisco Systems Inc. Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. and other technology companies sent a letter to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthiser urging the administration to avoid imposing more tariffs

President Donald Trump on Saturday took aim at Apple after the tech giant said the White House's proposed tariffs on China could result in price increases on popular consumer devices such as AirPods, the company's wireless headphones, and the Apple Watch.

New tariffs are expected soon on US$200 billion (S$276 billion) worth of imports from China and these will be in addition to the US$50 billion already in place. But Beijing will struggle to keep responding in kind as it imports less than United States dollars 200 billion in USA goods per year.

Speaking with reporters on Air Force One during a midterm election campaign trip, Trump said he was "ready to go" on the additional tariffs "if I want".

"That totally changes the equation", Trump said.

President Trump has now broached the full monte, threatening to impose tariffs on essentially every product imported from China. The president says the tariffs are needed to force China to stop stealing USA technology and coercing US companies to surrender their trade secrets in return for access to the Chinese market.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the United States' trade deficit with China hit a record high in July 2018, with U.S. imports of Chinese goods rising year over year and Chinese imports of U.S. goods falling over the same period.

China will be forced to retaliate if the USA ignores resistance in public hearings and imposes additional tariffs, said Gao Feng, a Ministry of Commerce spokesman, at a regular briefing on Thursday in Beijing. If that pace continued for the remainder of this year, Chinese imports would top $548 billion - leaving Trump a bit short of complete coverage of Chinese goods.

World share indexes registered their biggest weekly declines in nearly six months in a volatile session yesterday as investors weighed solid United States economic data against expectations for higher interest rates and USA trade tensions on multiple fronts.

"Tit-for-tat tariffs are counterproductive and so far have only produced increased costs for American businesses, farmers, importers, exporters and consumers", the coalition said.

In addition, the chip industry is a source of trade surplus for the USA, including with China, Intel argued.

The move risks raising tensions between the world's two largest economies.

Reuters reported in July that the Apple Watch was likely to be affected by the tariffs. An intensified trade war would likely hurt the USA more than China, according to S&P Global Ratings. The tariffs would pressure China to stop that behavior, the administration has said.

"It's a product you're familiar with it, but you never think much about", said Mark Berman, the CEO of Rockland Industries, a Baltimore-based textile company that's been manufacturing the fabrics since the 1960s. Intel Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and others argued in their filings that the tariffs could hamper USA competitiveness in 5G, an emerging wireless technology the White House has set up as critical to national security.

Some business groups greeted the president's latest tariff threats with dismay.

President Donald Trump suggested that Apple could face no taxes if the company moves its manufacturing process to the U.S. from China.

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