Chinese leaders are considering whether potential US hikes in steel and aluminium tariffs justify starting a dispute that might disrupt access to one of China’s biggest markets. Beijing gave no immediate reaction to US president Donald Trump’s plan for tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium. Asian stock markets fell amid talk of a “trade war”. Chinese leaders must weigh the need to back up threats with action against the risk of disrupting US market access for smartphones and other exports that matter more to the economy than metals. “China will definitely respond. It doesn’t want to be seen as weak. But it will be relatively restrained,” said economist Louis Kuijs of Oxford Economics. “They don’t want to be seen as a party that is wrecking the international trading system.” Beijing has accused Mr Trump of undermining global trade regulation by taking action over steel, technology policy and other disputes under US law instead of through the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Chinese officials have been asking the White House since last March to avoid hurting both sides by disrupting aluminium trade. Their tone hardened after Mr Trump launched a probe in August into whether Beijing improperly pressures companies… Read full this story
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