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Trump on Friday slapped tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese imports, and Beijing fired back by taxing an equal amount of US products.

The US runs a bilateral trade deficit of $US336 billion with China and imports much more from it than the reverse, giving it an early advantage.

China has sought the moral high ground during the increasingly bitter build up to the trade war by positioning itself as a champion of free trade but state media has now ramped up the rhetoric against the US President. China is our top market, importing 31 percent of our crop past year.

"If we can seize our own market, we will be less affected by the trade war", said a spokesperson for Topsun, a furniture manufacturer in Zhejiang province.

Chinese exporters of tools, lighting and appliances say US orders have shrunk as customers wait to see what will happen to prices. Even getting a full year's worth of crops paid for won't help them five years down the road if a trade battle has turned into a multi-year trade war.

Washington increased tariffs at 12:01 a.m.

China retaliated by imposing a similar 25% tariff on 545 United States products - including cars, soya beans and lobsters - also worth a total of $34bn. China still has outstanding sales of about 771,000 tons of US soybeans in the 2017-2018 marketing year and 1.39 million tons in the following season, USDA records show. Based on foreign investment flows, the capital is likely to have come mostly from the US, Japan and South Korea.

Given the moves were widely telegraphed, financial markets took them in stride.

So you don't think these US tariffs and Chinese counter tariffs today are here to stay? Asian equities wobbled but also managed to end up.

World stock markets rose and the euro climbed to a three-week peak on Friday as the threat of tariffs by the United States and China on billions of dollars of trade became a reality, though concerns about the conflict escalating capped the appetite for risk.

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Officials were also expected to hash out the return of the remains of United States soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War. According to a "source in Washington", the song had been a previous topic of conversation between Trump and Kim.

White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett, in an interview on Fox Business Network on Friday, said Trump is "going to deliver better (trade) deals". He added that for now, "He's called the bluff of other countries that have basically been abusing. our workers for a long time".

Importers of American retail goods hit by higher Chinese duties were reluctant to pass the costs on to consumers for now. The products, all sold on Chinese e-commerce platforms, ranged from pet food to mixed nuts and whiskey.

"China will never fire the first shot", Gao said.

Trump and his advisers argue the tariffs are necessary to pressure China into abandoning unfair practices such as stealing intellectual property and forcing American companies to hand over valuable technology.

The Trump administration engaged in a similar tit-for-tat last month with the European Union, Mexico and Canada.

In response, "China lodged an additional complaint with the World Trade Organization. over tariffs formally implemented by the United States", Xinhua reported, citing a statement by the commerce ministry.

Kennedy say he thinks the Trump administration's enthusiasm for the conflict "will erode as the economic pain and political fallout from a trade war begin to take hold".

After that, the hostilities could intensify: Trump said the United States is ready to target an additional US$200 billion of Chinese imports - and then US$300 billion more - if Beijing does not yield to United States demands and continues to retaliate.

Adding to concerns this week was a leaked report suggesting Trump had asked his officials to look at pulling the USA out of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) altogether.


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