Trump ups pressure on China ahead of last ditch trade talks

Trump says he will increase tariffs on Chinese goods on Friday as he complains about pace of trade talks

"Trump has taken the proverbial sledgehammer to the walnut this threatening to slap a 25 percent tariff on a mind-boggling $525 billion of Chinese goods by this Friday", said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at futures brokerage OANDA in Singapore.

The administration repeatedly has suggested that the negotiators were making progress.

Investors pulled back from riskier bets on fears the trade battle between the world's biggest economies was escalating, especially since recent gains in USA equities were at least partly due to optimism they would reach a deal. "The 10% will go up to 25% on Friday", Trump wrote on Twitter.

The US president tweeted that tariffs of 10% would rise to 25% on Friday, saying: "The Trade Deal with China continues, but too slowly, as they attempt to renegotiate. No!"

"For 10 months, China has been paying Tariffs to the United States of America of 25 per cent on 50 Billion Dollars of High Tech, and 10 per cent on 200 Billion Dollars of other goods", Trump wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

According to reports, in recent days U.S. officials have become frustrated by China seeking to row back on some earlier commitments in talks.

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Based on calculations by Bloomberg Economics, tariffs at the current level add up to a 0.5 percentage-point drag on China's gross domestic product growth this year.

The next round of talks with a major Chinese delegation is scheduled to start on Wednesday in Washington. But Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed to a truce in December to refrain from further escalation.

But a March study by economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Columbia University, and Princeton University found that the burden of Mr. Trump's tariffs - including taxes on steel, aluminum, solar panels, and Chinese imports - falls entirely on USA consumers and businesses who buy imported products.

Trump is also demanding that China halt intellectual property theft and subsidies to state-owned companies. "China has got to end its unfair, nonreciprocal trading system". Sources said the two sides were negotiating an enforcement mechanism to ensure China kept its promises.

The S&P 500 has gained 17.5% so far this year partly due to a decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve to put rate hikes on hold but also due to hopes for a China deal.

Any sign of an escalation in the months-long trade war is nearly sure to roil financial markets, which have reacted sensitively to developments in the talks between the world's two largest economies.

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