The trade war between China and the United States has triggered a global economic slowdown thanks to far-reaching tensions between the world’s two biggest economies. Last Friday China lobbed their most recent retaliation back at the United States by announcing tariffs on an additional $75 billion worth of goods. This is just the most recent counterattack in a now yearlong tit-for-tat spat that has seen both countries confront each other again and again with hard-hitting tariffs (you can see a detailed timeline here) and even culminated in Beijing allowing the Yuan reach its lowest value in years, making Chinese goods cheaper to export and, conversely, making U.S. goods more expensive and therefore less desirable in Chinese markets.
Because of the far-reaching economic implications of the trade dispute, United States president Donald Trump has been put under a great deal of pressure from global leaders to de-escalate tensions with China. In response, Trump has announced that he will soon begin trade talks with Beijing in order to reach an accord and end the trade war, but the reality is not so simple, especially as the U.S. president seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth. In a report titled “Trump sends mixed signals on China trade war as pressure mounts to de-escalate” the UK’s Independent points out that, “on Sunday, [President Trump] seemed to express regret over escalating the trade dispute, but the White House later said his only regret was that he didn’t impose even higher tariffs on China.”
Even if Trump does follow through on his public promises to make peace with China, in many sectors of the economy the damage is already done. One of the most recent casualties of the trade war is the Asian petrochemical market, which just hit its lowest profit margin in months.
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