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US tariffs against Chinese imports took effect early Friday and President Donald Trump made clear Thursday that he is prepared to sharply escalate a trade war between the world's two biggest economies.

Washington imposed 25 per cent duties on $34 billion of imports from China, the first in a series of possible increases that President Donald Trump says could affect up to $550 billion of Chinese goods, more than the total amount China exported to the USA previous year.

- At the Port of Oakland, towering stacks of containers moving on and off ships bode well for business, but Port officials say there is concern that the USA tariffs on Chinese imports imposed Friday could threaten their bustling trade.

But if the scope of the tariffs widened then New Zealand could be affected - either through intermediary goods sold into the United States or China for further processing or because markets were disrupted more broadly.

"We are still many steps away from a full blown trade war", Meyer wrote. The damage could also spread to other economies, hurting business confidence and prompting companies to delay investments. China has promised to levy its own tariffs immediately after on a similar quantity of USA imports.

Cohen says while China does export more to the US, the United States could lose in other ways.

It has increased sharply since 2001 when China joined the World Trade Organization and started to significantly improve its economic position and relations worldwide.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that United States companies had already felt Beijing's sting "in the form of stalled product approvals, worker visas and licensing applications".

"There are no winners in a trade war", said the chamber's chairman, William Zarit, in a statement. "There are lots of things they could do to make life hard for USA businesses operating in China that would be detrimental to us". Chinese shares slipped further from early deals and pulled Asian markets down, while the yuan currency also weakened.

China's foreign minister said in a statement on Friday that trade protectionism and unilateral actions were "short-sighted " and called on European counties to work with China to safeguard a globally free trade system.

China was set to hit back with taxes on an equal amount of USA products, including soybeans, lobsters, sport-utility vehicles and whiskey.

The dollar slid early Friday, even after a stronger-than-expected jobs report. The products, all sold on Chinese e-commerce platforms, ranged from pet food to mixed nuts and whiskey.

"China will not bow in the face of threats and blackmail", he added. There did not appear to be any direct instructions to hold up cargoes, but some customs departments were waiting for official guidance on imposing added tariffs, the sources said. "Simply put, the USA is opening fire on the whole world, and also firing at itself", Gao said.

While the United States tariffs aim to cut down the trade deficit, there are worries about how China's retaliatory tariffs will hit the U.S. economy.

After that, the hostilities could intensify: Trump said the U.S.is ready to target an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports - and then $300 billion more - if Beijing does not yield to USA demands and continues to retaliate. "So we have 50 plus 200 plus nearly 300", Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Thursday.

So let's mark the start of the conflict with a collection of some of the most illuminating quotes from the Chinese and American camps-bear in mind that the Chinese administration's views are generally expressed through state media-and from observers of the spat, who are anxious about where this will go.

The state-run China Daily fumed: "In effect, the Trump administration is behaving like a gang of hoodlums with its shakedown of other countries, particularly China".

"Its unruliness looks set to have a profoundly damaging impact on the global economic landscape in the coming decades, unless countries stand together to oppose it".

China has said it would respond with tariffs on hundreds of US goods, including top exports such as soybeans, sorghum and cotton, threatening U.S. farmers in states that backed Trump in the 2016 US election, such as Texas and Iowa.

Beijing had said it would retaliate with punitive measures on US products worth a similar amount, including soybeans, pork and cotton, but it had not officially confirmed on Friday that they had taken effect.

"This is not economic armageddon".