Trump threatens more tariffs on China imports as Beijing reportedly cancels trade talks

US President Trump is on course in his aggressive trade policies, imposing tariffs on multiple countries. The world’s two largest economies – the US and China – are in trade wars as they take turns to retaliate with tariffs and sanctions, increasing prices and lowering the competitiveness of those goods. According to the article here, the US administration is not satisfied with negotiated offers from China, and demands for fairer playing field for American businesses in China.


The involved economies are going all out to protect their national interests, while using punitive measures to force the other into negotiations. Economies are now interlinked between countries. This trade war will affect many businesses and consumers, not just from the two warring economies. Analysts have reported that the imposed tariffs on Chinese goods would affect consumer-oriented products, depressing spending in the retail sector in 2019. Supply chains of businesses will be affected with increased costs. Small businesses may not be able to absorb or pass on to consumers, so they may go bust.

Another downstream effect is large businesses with the ability to create jobs, pulling out of the economies due to the antagonism shown by the leaders. Jack Ma of Alibaba says it can no longer fulfil its promise of bringing 1 million jobs to America as the commitment was based on friendly US-China bilateral trade ties which would mutually benefit both economies. Now that things are not so friendly anymore, China businesses would be forced to seek for better trade opportunities elsewhere.

Questions for personal evaluation:

  1. What do you think incited this trade war that does not seem to benefit either parties in the short term?
  2. Today, countries do not only fight for physical territories but use other means to exert their sovereign powers. Should other countries interfere in this trade war? Why?
  3. How will this trade war affect the relations in our connected world?

Useful vocabulary/phrases:

  1. ‘Tit-for-tat’: actions done intentionally to punish someone who has done something unpleasant to you
  2. ‘Czar’: Russian word for ruler or emperor; now used to describe people in charge of something important
  3. ‘Punitive’: intended as punishment


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