The U.S. and China were poised to slap levies on $34 billion of each other’s exports Friday, the first tangible shots in a trade battle both sides are preparing to keep fighting for months if not years longer.
In Beijing, President Xi Jinping has instructed various levels of government to get ready for a full-bore trade war, according to Chinese officials. “With his tariff threats, Trump is posing an unprecedented challenge to the leadership,” said Zhu Feng, a professor of international relations at Nanjing University, referring to President Donald Trump.
Brookings Institution China scholar David Dollar, who was the U.S. Treasury’s top official in Beijing during the Obama administration, figures the fight will stretch into next year, at least, because a strong economy will make it less likely that the U.S. will feel any immediate economic pressure from the trade fight.
Trump’s threat to levy tariffs on another $200 billion also won’t be ready to put into effect until the late fall because the U.S. has to clear a number of procedural requirements. And as the U.S. closes in on midterm congressional elections, the China fight might seem like “a political winner,” Dollar said. The new levies were scheduled to take effect at midnight Eastern in the U.S.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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