Donald Trump engages in a trade war with China

Agence France-Presse

"China came back with proposed tariffs, but it was not almost as large as United States, and that's given people a little bit of semblance of hope that maybe this is not going to turn into a full-fledged trade war and maybe that there's room for negotiation", said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth in NY. He defended Trump outlining that the President took the steps to defend American corporations. The U.S. has announced $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese products. However, Trump himself increased the limit to $60 billion in tariffs on Chinese products.

Analysts said traders were also spooked also by the fact China is the biggest buyer of USA government bonds, which the United States needs to keep its economic wheels greased.

If a trade war does erupt, both sides are likely to share the blame.

Bloomberg News cited China's ambassador to the United States saying that the country is "looking at all options" in response to tariffs, which could include scaling back purchases of U.S. Treasuries.

After a seven-month investigation, the office of the US Trade Representative concluded that China hurts US technology companies in a variety of ways. Earlier in the session, prices touched their highest since Feb 20 at $1,343.06 US, and were on track for their best weekly performance since the week of February 16, rising over 2%. The gold index rose 3.79%, food and drug retailers 0.48% and general retailers 0.32%. Last year, the United States imported $506 billion in goods from China.

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The reaction to the moves in Washington and Beijing was somewhat muted, with Asian markets regaining some lost ground after early sell-offs. John Heisdorffer, president of the American Soybean Association, told CNBC Friday, "China's our number one customer". That continued Thursday, after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the tariffs won't apply to the European Union, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Australia.

The likely victor of this trade war will be other countries, particularly countries from South America. But, you know, China could be hurt, too, if it chose that path, and that's because if China made a decision to unload some of its vast holdings of US debt, the value of those bonds would start falling, and China would begin to lose money.

Leah Millis / Reuters U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a forum called Generation Next at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., March 22.

Wine, apples and ethanol could also be in the firing line, which would hit agricultural areas where voters supported Trump in the 2016 presidential election. They had climbed earlier this week after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates, but then tumbled after the tariffs were proposed. If their industry is in the list of those 128 products, it will work against them. "Such achievements may make the U.S. feel anxious, but as the largest economy in the world, the USA is supposed to be above making groundless accusations and blowing things out of proportion".

Trump has given his administration 15 days to come up with a list of tariffs, after which there would be 30 days of public consultation, and nearly certainly intense lobbying from within the United States.

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