China raised import duties on pork, fruit and other products from the United States on Monday in an escalating tariff dispute with U.S. President Trump that companies worry might depress global commerce.
The Chinese Finance Ministry said the charges were in response to a U.S. tariff hike on steel and aluminum that took effect March 23. But a bigger dispute looms over Trump's approval of possible higher duties on nearly $50 billion of Chinese goods in a dispute over technology policy.
Forecasters say the immediate economic impact should be limited, but investors worry the global recovery might be set back if other governments respond by raising their own import barriers. Those fears temporarily depressed financial markets, though stocks have recovered some of their losses.
Effective Monday, Beijing raised the tariff rate on pork products, aluminum scrap and some other products by 25%, the ministry said. A 15% tariff was imposed on apples, almonds and some other goods.
The government said earlier that China's imports of those goods last year totaled $3 billion.
China’s latest move targets farm areas, many of which voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
The U.S. tariff hike has “has seriously damaged our interests,” said a Finance Ministry statement.
“Our country advocates and supports the multilateral trading system,” the statement said. The tariff increase "is a proper measure adopted by our country using World Trade Organization rules to protect our interests."
The White House didn't respond to a message from the Associated Press on Sunday seeking comment.
Chinese authorities have accused Trump of violating global rules on trade regulation by taking action under U.S. law instead of through the WTO.
U.S. farmers shipped nearly $20 billion of goods to China in 2017. The American pork industry sent $1.1 billion in products, making China the No. 3 market for U.S. pork.