Trump: US Will Weigh Tariffs on Another $100B Worth of Chinese Goods; China Responds

The trade war rhetoric between the United States and China escalated Friday with President Donald threatening tariffs on an additional $100 billion worth of Chinese goods and Beijing warning it will fight the United States “at any cost.”

Trump said Thursday he had instructed the U.S. trade representative to consider the additional tariffs after China issued a list of U.S. goods, including soybeans and small aircraft, worth $50 billion for possible tariff hikes. The United States had proposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods earlier this week.

China’s commerce ministry said in its statement Friday that if Washington persisted in what Beijing describes as protectionism, China would “dedicate itself to the end and at any cost and will definitely fight back firmly.”

WATCH: Trump, White House Defend Action on China Trade

U.S. stock futures dropped on Trump’s latest trade directive. Dow futures fell and were down about 400 points in after-hours trading.

Financial markets have swung wildly over the past few days in response to fears of escalating trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.

“Rather than remedy its misconduct, China has chosen to harm our farmers and manufacturers,” Trump said.

Since the start of this week, the United States and China have been engaging in a tit-for-tat trade spat. On Monday, in response to earlier tariffs on steel and aluminum imposed by the Trump administration, China started tariffs of up to 25 percent on 128 U.S. products, including fruits, nuts, pork, wine, steel and aluminum.

Later on the same day, the USTR proposed to increase tariffs on 1,300 imported goods from China, mostly aerospace, medical and information technology products.

Less than 12 hours later, China said it would impose retaliatory duties of 25 percent on 106 politically sensitive American goods, including soybeans, automobiles and aircraft.

The proposed U.S. list is now entering a “public notice and comment process, including a hearing,” the USTR said. After this process is completed, the USTR will issue a final determination on the products subject to the additional duties.

China’s commerce ministry said the question of when the measures would go into effect would depend on when the U.S. tariffs became active.

China’s ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, told reporters on Wednesday, “Negotiation would still be our preference, but it takes two to tango. We will see what the U.S. will do.”

A senior U.S. official told Reuters late Thursday that the United States was willing to negotiate with China on trade, but only if talks were serious, as previous attempts produced little progress.

No formal negotiating sessions have been set, but there have been “ongoing communications with the Chinese on trade,” said the official, who requested anonymity to discuss the Trump administration’s trade strategy.

Some information for this report came from Reuters and the Associated Press.

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Chinese Viewpoints on US-China Trade Dispute

The trade dispute rumbling between China and the U.S. has raised the possibility consumers in Beijing may end up paying higher prices for American beef, liquor and tobacco if Beijing goes ahead with hikes on tariffs for such products.

Below are thoughts shared with The Associated Press by a few Beijing residents.

 

The investor

 

Yang Shumei, 29, a freelance worker from southwestern China’s Guangxi province: “I think this [the threat of a trade war] does influence my life and other areas to a certain extent. I invest in stock markets, and shares have fallen sharply as the risk is high.”

 

The optimist

 

Feng Weifeng, 36, a salesman from Beijing: “I believe imposing extra tariffs from both sides is just a temporary measure and a win-win situation is the trend.”

 

The price-sensitive buyer 

 

Wang Xiaoyu, 20, student from Beijing, Higher prices “Will definitely influence my decisions. For daily necessities, mobile phones or electrical products, I am more likely to choose domestic brands or choose products with prices the same as those of U.S.-made products before the price hike.”

 

The anti-tariffs student

 

Liu Boshu, 18, a student from central China’s Zhengzhou, in Henan province: “Actually I’m against the measures from either side. Because trade barriers like this will harm both countries in the long term.”

 

 

 

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Chinese Viewpoints on US-China Trade Dispute

The trade dispute rumbling between China and the U.S. has raised the possibility consumers in Beijing may end up paying higher prices for American beef, liquor and tobacco if Beijing goes ahead with hikes on tariffs for such products.

Below are thoughts shared with The Associated Press by a few Beijing residents.

 

The investor

 

Yang Shumei, 29, a freelance worker from southwestern China’s Guangxi province: “I think this [the threat of a trade war] does influence my life and other areas to a certain extent. I invest in stock markets, and shares have fallen sharply as the risk is high.”

 

The optimist

 

Feng Weifeng, 36, a salesman from Beijing: “I believe imposing extra tariffs from both sides is just a temporary measure and a win-win situation is the trend.”

 

The price-sensitive buyer 

 

Wang Xiaoyu, 20, student from Beijing, Higher prices “Will definitely influence my decisions. For daily necessities, mobile phones or electrical products, I am more likely to choose domestic brands or choose products with prices the same as those of U.S.-made products before the price hike.”

 

The anti-tariffs student

 

Liu Boshu, 18, a student from central China’s Zhengzhou, in Henan province: “Actually I’m against the measures from either side. Because trade barriers like this will harm both countries in the long term.”

 

 

 

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Mueller’s Russia Probe Shows it Pays to Cooperate

George Papadopoulos, taken by surprise by FBI agents at an airport last summer, now tweets smiling beach selfies with a Mykonos hashtag. Rick Gates, for weeks on home confinement with electronic monitoring, gets rapid approval for a family vacation and shaves down his potential prison time. Michael Flynn, once the target of a grand jury investigation, flies cross-country to stump for a California congressional candidate and books a speaking event in New York.

 

The message is unmistakable: It pays to cooperate with the government.

 

That’s an age-old truism in any criminal investigation, but it’s especially notable in a case as pressing and high profile as special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, where deals afforded to cooperators have raised speculation about incriminating information they’re providing.

 

The perks of cooperation have manifested themselves in freer travel, lenient punishment prospects and even public comments by defendants that might have been unthinkable months ago. They form a counterpoint to the experiences of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who has refused to cooperate and faces decades in prison, and send a message to others entangled in the Mueller probe that they too could receive favorable treatment if they agree to work with investigators.

 

“There’s no question that it’s in the government’s interest to take what steps they can to show that cooperating is in the interest of the defendant,” said Daniel Petalas, a former federal prosecutor. “A basic principle of plea bargaining is that you have to make it worth it to the defendant to admit liability in a criminal matter.”

 

The latest example came Tuesday when Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan was sentenced to 30 days in prison for lying to the FBI. Though his plea deal didn’t explicitly require cooperation, the charge he pleaded guilty to carries a maximum five-year sentence and it’s likely the attorney, whose wife is pregnant in London, risked a longer punishment if convicted at trial. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said some incarceration was necessary to deter others from lying to investigators.

 

To be sure, defendants who admit guilt are stained with criminal convictions, forego liberties including the right to vote, put their jobs and reputation at risk — and can still wind up with tough sentences. Given that uncertainty and stress, it’s common practice for prosecutors looking to induce cooperation to make concessions, such as dismissing charges or agreeing to recommend a lighter sentence, especially for someone they think can help them build a case against a higher-value target.

 

“There is a societal interest, frankly, in having people cooperate with prosecutors because often the government only can know what’s happened based on documentary evidence and witnesses that it speaks with,” said Sharon McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor in New York. “But insiders who can give insight into conversations and planning and things like that are crucial to being able to make cases.”

 

There’s nothing new about cutting deals, including for violent mobsters, but the tactics have drawn renewed scrutiny especially in conservative legal circles. Former Manhattan federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy wrote last month in the National Review that Mueller was breaching Justice Department protocols by offering Gates, Manafort’s co-defendant and a key Trump campaign aide, a “penny-ante plea deal” instead of requiring him to plead to the most serious charges he faced.

 

Gates was initially charged in October in a 12-count indictment and faced well over a decade in prison, but he pleaded guilty in February to just two charges and now faces fewer than six years — or less, depending on the extent of his cooperation. He spent months on home confinement as a potential flight risk, repeatedly requesting — and generally receiving — permission to attend children’s sporting events and Christmas parties in the area.

 

The home confinement condition was lifted in January, and days after his plea, he received a judge’s permission and the government’s blessing to ditch the electronic monitoring and to travel freely between his Virginia home and Washington. He also got approval for a family trip to Boston for spring break, though that plan was aborted after he said threatening comments were posted online.

 

“Everybody who practices in federal court knows you’re going to get more leeway from prosecutors on bail if your client is cooperating,” said Duke University law professor Samuel Buell.

 

Meanwhile, Papadopoulos’s carefree tweets, including smiling snapshots of his wife on his lap and beside him at the beach, are a far cry from the frowning mug shot taken after his arrest at Dulles Airport last summer. Accused of lying to the FBI, and facing the possibility of a years-long sentence, he pleaded guilty in a secret court hearing and agreed to cooperate. Since then, he’s resurfaced with a Twitter profile of more than 7,300 followers.

 

Mueller’s team includes lawyers with deep experience in organized crime and financial fraud cases, which frequently require flipping witnesses and sometimes involve aggressive maneuvering. Andrew Weissmann, one of the Gates prosecutors, for instance, in 2003 indicted the wife of Enron’s chief financial officer, Andrew Fastow. The move was interpreted as designed in part to encourage Fastow himself to plead guilty and cooperate, which he ultimately did.

 

Still, prosecutors understand that juries may look askance at sweetheart plea deals, especially with those who’ve been publicly demonized, and that defense lawyers may subject cooperators to bruising cross-examinations.

 

“Prosecutors are going to be cognizant that there are always going to be credibility issues with cooperators,” said former prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg, “but these are very experienced prosecutors and they’re making a decision that, on balance, they’re getting something in return.”

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After Scandals, Colorado Lawmakers Study Misconduct Policy

As the Colorado Legislature grapples with sexual misconduct allegations, lawmakers are set to receive recommended changes to the workplace harassment policy.

Lawmakers hope to use an outside report being presented Thursday as a blueprint for a new policy.

Five Colorado lawmakers have been accused of misconduct. One was expelled and a second survived an expulsion vote.

Colorado’s policy considers allegations, investigations and punishment confidential and off-limits to the public. It’s up to the accuser whether to release his or her complaint. It defines offensive conduct, but leaves it up to chamber leaders to decide what punishment, if any, to mete out.

Legislators vow to have an updated policy in hand before the 2018 session ends in May.

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Australia Begins Privacy Investigation into Facebook

Australia’s Privacy Commissioner said on Thursday she had opened a formal investigation into social media giant Facebook Inc after the company confirmed data from 300,000 Australian users may have been used without authorization.

The investigation will consider whether Facebook has breached Australia’s privacy laws, Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk said in a statement.

Facebook said on Wednesday that the personal information of up to 87 million users, mostly in the United States, may have been improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, up from a previous news media estimate of more than 50 million.

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Trump Administration Seeks to Temper China Trade War Fears

President Donald Trump said Wednesday the United States is not in a trade war with China, after Beijing announced plans to impose tariffs on $50 billion worth of U.S. goods in response to a similar package announced by the United States.

In a Twitter post Wednesday, Trump contended, “We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S.” He added, “Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue!”

On the same day, White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Bloomberg News, “None of the tariffs have been put in place yet, and these are all proposals.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC, “Even shooting wars end with negotiations. … So it wouldn’t be surprising at all if the net outcome of all this is some sort of negotiation.”

Tit-for-tat trade spat

Since the start of this week, the United States and China have been engaging in a tit-for-tat trade spat. On Monday, in response to earlier tariffs on steel and aluminum imposed by the Trump administration, China started tariffs of up to 25 percent on 128 U.S. products, including fruits, nuts, pork, wine, steel and aluminum.

Later the same day, the U.S. Trade Representatives (USTR) proposed to increase tariffs on 1,300 imported goods from China, mostly aerospace, medical and information technology products.

Less than 12 hours later, China announced it plans to impose retaliatory duties of 25 percent on 106 politically sensitive American goods, including soybeans, automobiles and aircraft.

The proposed list is now entering a “public notice and comment process, including a hearing,” the USTR said. After this process is completed, the USTR will issue a final determination on the products subject to the additional duties.

China’s commerce ministry said the question of when the measures will go into effect will depend on when the U.S. tariffs become active.

China’s Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai told reporters on Wednesday, “Negotiation would still be our preference, but it takes two to tango. We will see what the U.S. will do.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reiterated at Wednesday’s press briefing that this measure is now going through the review process, and “it will be a couple of months before tariffs on either side would go into effect and be implemented.”

“We’re hopeful China will do the right thing. Look, China created the problem, not President Trump. We’re finally having a president who’s willing to stand up and say enough is enough, we’re going to stop the unfair trade practices,” Sanders said.

She also warned if China doesn’t stop the unfair trade practices, the administration will move forward to the next step.

Already in a trade war

Scott Kennedy, deputy director of the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said he believes that the U.S. and China are already in a trade war.

“It started several weeks ago when the United States instituted penalties on Chinese steel and aluminum, and then the Chinese responded with penalties that also went into effect, so we haven’t just put our guns on the table, we’ve actually pulled the trigger. In the last few days, we’ve announced additional tariffs that will come into effect in the coming weeks. If this isn’t a trade war, I don’t know what one is,” Kennedy told VOA.

​Farming first to be hit

At the frontline of this war is America’s farming industry.

China, which buys nearly $20 billion in U.S. agricultural products annually, has become one of the most important export markets for U.S. farmers, but many agricultural products, including soybeans, cotton, frozen beef and sorghum, will be subject to tariffs if it goes into effect.

American Farm Bureau Federation Policy Communications Director Will Rodger told VOA, “Right now, we export about 20 percent of what we produce. We are very, very dependent on exports. We are looking at 25 percent being placed on soybeans into China.

“The actual economic impact will not be good, it will certainly be bad, the question is how large it’s going to be, we don’t know exactly,” Rodger said.

He said farm income is already at a 16-year low, resulting in many farmers in economic distress.

“While we haven’t reached the crisis point, we have one or two more years of declining income, we will be there pretty quickly,” he noted.

Rodger said the current trade dispute is obviously not a good thing. 

“We need it to stop, we need China and the United States to sit down and come up with a reasonable agreement in a reasonable fashion,” he added.

Losses in the short term

If the tariffs go into effect, China trade expert Kennedy pointed out, there will be potential job losses by the reduced export opportunities, but the most important impact in the short term will be on the financial markets.

Kennedy said the trade dispute between the U.S. and China is not about how fast this is resolved, but the way it is resolved.

“The issues the Trump administration has raised are issues American presidents have raised with China for almost two decades now, and not made the progress that they want. We shouldn’t be looking for a quick deal and put this behind us, we should be ready for a sustained level of tension until China relents,” he said.

Kennedy said China won’t do that easily. 

“China has an economic governance system which is distinctive and critical to the way the Communist Party runs the country, so it’s going to take a lot for them to move fundamentally,” he said.

“The two sides may make some type of short term deal to address superficially the challenges, but this is not something that will go away in the next few weeks,” Kennedy added.

State Department correspondent Nike Ching contributed to this report.

 

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Trump Administration Seeks to Temper China Trade War Fears

President Donald Trump said Wednesday the United States is not in a trade war with China, after Beijing announced plans to impose tariffs on $50 billion worth of U.S. goods in response to a similar package announced by the United States.

In a Twitter post Wednesday, Trump contended, “We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S.” He added, “Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue!”

On the same day, White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Bloomberg News, “None of the tariffs have been put in place yet, and these are all proposals.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC, “Even shooting wars end with negotiations. … So it wouldn’t be surprising at all if the net outcome of all this is some sort of negotiation.”

Tit-for-tat trade spat

Since the start of this week, the United States and China have been engaging in a tit-for-tat trade spat. On Monday, in response to earlier tariffs on steel and aluminum imposed by the Trump administration, China started tariffs of up to 25 percent on 128 U.S. products, including fruits, nuts, pork, wine, steel and aluminum.

Later the same day, the U.S. Trade Representatives (USTR) proposed to increase tariffs on 1,300 imported goods from China, mostly aerospace, medical and information technology products.

Less than 12 hours later, China announced it plans to impose retaliatory duties of 25 percent on 106 politically sensitive American goods, including soybeans, automobiles and aircraft.

The proposed list is now entering a “public notice and comment process, including a hearing,” the USTR said. After this process is completed, the USTR will issue a final determination on the products subject to the additional duties.

China’s commerce ministry said the question of when the measures will go into effect will depend on when the U.S. tariffs become active.

China’s Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai told reporters on Wednesday, “Negotiation would still be our preference, but it takes two to tango. We will see what the U.S. will do.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reiterated at Wednesday’s press briefing that this measure is now going through the review process, and “it will be a couple of months before tariffs on either side would go into effect and be implemented.”

“We’re hopeful China will do the right thing. Look, China created the problem, not President Trump. We’re finally having a president who’s willing to stand up and say enough is enough, we’re going to stop the unfair trade practices,” Sanders said.

She also warned if China doesn’t stop the unfair trade practices, the administration will move forward to the next step.

Already in a trade war

Scott Kennedy, deputy director of the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said he believes that the U.S. and China are already in a trade war.

“It started several weeks ago when the United States instituted penalties on Chinese steel and aluminum, and then the Chinese responded with penalties that also went into effect, so we haven’t just put our guns on the table, we’ve actually pulled the trigger. In the last few days, we’ve announced additional tariffs that will come into effect in the coming weeks. If this isn’t a trade war, I don’t know what one is,” Kennedy told VOA.

​Farming first to be hit

At the frontline of this war is America’s farming industry.

China, which buys nearly $20 billion in U.S. agricultural products annually, has become one of the most important export markets for U.S. farmers, but many agricultural products, including soybeans, cotton, frozen beef and sorghum, will be subject to tariffs if it goes into effect.

American Farm Bureau Federation Policy Communications Director Will Rodger told VOA, “Right now, we export about 20 percent of what we produce. We are very, very dependent on exports. We are looking at 25 percent being placed on soybeans into China.

“The actual economic impact will not be good, it will certainly be bad, the question is how large it’s going to be, we don’t know exactly,” Rodger said.

He said farm income is already at a 16-year low, resulting in many farmers in economic distress.

“While we haven’t reached the crisis point, we have one or two more years of declining income, we will be there pretty quickly,” he noted.

Rodger said the current trade dispute is obviously not a good thing. 

“We need it to stop, we need China and the United States to sit down and come up with a reasonable agreement in a reasonable fashion,” he added.

Losses in the short term

If the tariffs go into effect, China trade expert Kennedy pointed out, there will be potential job losses by the reduced export opportunities, but the most important impact in the short term will be on the financial markets.

Kennedy said the trade dispute between the U.S. and China is not about how fast this is resolved, but the way it is resolved.

“The issues the Trump administration has raised are issues American presidents have raised with China for almost two decades now, and not made the progress that they want. We shouldn’t be looking for a quick deal and put this behind us, we should be ready for a sustained level of tension until China relents,” he said.

Kennedy said China won’t do that easily. 

“China has an economic governance system which is distinctive and critical to the way the Communist Party runs the country, so it’s going to take a lot for them to move fundamentally,” he said.

“The two sides may make some type of short term deal to address superficially the challenges, but this is not something that will go away in the next few weeks,” Kennedy added.

State Department correspondent Nike Ching contributed to this report.

 

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Wall Street Closes Higher as China Tariff Fears Ease

Wall Street’s three major indexes staged a comeback to close around 1 percent higher Wednesday as investors turned their focus to earnings and away from a trade conflict between the United States and China that

wreaked havoc in earlier trading.

After investors fled equities in the morning because of proposed retaliatory tariffs from China, their concerns about a potential trade war eased by the afternoon after President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said the administration was in a “negotiation” with China rather than a trade war.

Investors said they were comforted by the fact that any tariffs would not take effect immediately, if at all.

Strategists also cited the Standard & Poor’s bounce above a key technical

support level and said they expected equities to rise further around the first-quarter earnings season, due to start in mid-April.

“We’re starting to feel that while markets hate uncertainty, Trump’s bark is worse than his bite when it comes to trade,” said Robert Phipps, a director at Per Stirling Capital Management in Austin, Texas. 

“It’s earnings that’s going to lift us off this bottom. It wouldn’t shock me if we chopped around sideways for a little bit before earnings season. … The trade stuff is really a sideshow. We’re waiting for real economic data, like the jobs report Friday, and for earnings. For now, it’s going to be all about the technicals,” he said.

A rebound

The S&P opened below its 200-day moving average, a key technical level, but inched above it as the session progressed, and by afternoon was in positive territory.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 230.94 points, or 0.96 percent, to close at 24,264.30; the S&P 500 gained 30.24 points, or 1.16 percent, to 2,644.69; and the Nasdaq Composite added 100.83 points, or 1.45 percent, to 7,042.11.

The turnaround marked the first time the S&P had showed gains for two consecutive days since early March.

Despite big swings in stocks, trading activity in U.S. equity options was muted as expectations for strong corporate earnings quelled the urge to load up on contracts that benefit from a surge in market volatility.

The CBOE Volatility Index, the most widely followed barometer of expected near-term volatility for the S&P 500, closed down 1.04 points at 20.06.

The technology sector rose 1.4 percent with only two of its stocks ending the day in negative territory, including Facebook Inc., which was pummeled after news its chief executive would testify in Congress over a data privacy scandal.

It too closed well off its session low with a 0.6 percent drop to $155.10.

Boeing was the biggest drag on the Dow because of its exposure to China, and ended the day well off its session lows with a 1 percent decline to $327.44 after falling as low as $311.88.

Farm machinery company Deere & Co ended down 2.9 percent at $148.57 as it could be hurt by China tariffs if its customers’ exports are curbed.

After being a laggard for much of the session, the S&P 500’s industrials sector turned positive late in the day to close 0.4 percent higher.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.19-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.95-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted one new 52-week high and eight new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 40 new highs and 94 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 7.04 billion shares, compared with the 7.3 billion average for the last 20 trading days.

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