File picture: Andres Stapff
INTERNATIONAL - China has slapped extra tariffs of up to 25percent on 128 US products, including frozen pork, as well as on wine and certain fruits and nuts, in response to US duties on imports of aluminium and steel, China's finance ministry said.

The tariffs, to take effect yesterday, were announced late on Sunday and match a list of potential tariffs on up to $3billion in US goods published by China on March 23.

China’s Ministry of Commerce (Mofcom) said it was suspending its obligations to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to reduce tariffs on 120 US goods, including fruit. The tariffs on those products would be raised by an extra 15percent. Eight other products, including pork, would now be subject to additional tariffs of 25percent, it said, with the measures effective from yesterday.

“China's suspension of its tariff concessions is a legitimate action adopted under WTO rules to safeguard China's interests,” the Chinese finance ministry said.

China has imposed the additional tariffs amid escalating trade tensions between Beijing and Washington, sparking fears of a full-blown trade spat.

US President Donald Trump is preparing to impose tariffs of more than $50 billion on Chinese goods intended to punish Beijing over US accusations that China systematically misappropriated American intellectual property - allegations Beijing denies.

China has repeatedly promised to open its economy further, but many foreign companies continue to complain of unfair treatment. China warned the US on Thursday not to open a Pandora’s Box and spark a flurry of protectionist practices across the globe.

In a statement published yesterday morning, Mofcom said the US had “seriously violated” the principles of non-discrimination enshrined in World Trade Organisation rules, and had also damaged China’s interests.

“China’s suspension of some of its obligations to the US is its legitimate right as a member of the World Trade Organisation,” it said, adding that differences between the world's two largest economies should be resolved through dialogue and negotiation. 

- REUTERS