BEIJING, March 23 (Xinhua) -- China announced Friday that it is considering higher tariffs for imported U.S. products worth about 3 billion U.S. dollars to balance losses caused by the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from China.
This came after the United States, despite worldwide objection, decided to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum, with initial exemptions for Canada and Mexico.
The U.S. move, restricting imports on national security grounds, has severely undermined the multilateral trade system led by the World Trade Organization (WTO), disrupted international trade order, and has drawn opposition from other WTO members, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said on its website.
China will take legal action under the WTO framework and work with other WTO members to safeguard the stability and authority of the multilateral trade rules, it said.
According to the ministry's Friday announcement, the measures, or the suspension of tariff concessions, will target 128 U.S. products, including pork, wine, and seamless steel tubes.
It will include an additional 15-percent tariff on products including fruit, nuts, wines, and seamless steel tubes, and an additional 25-percent tariff on pork and recycled aluminum products.
The measures will be implemented in two stages: in the first stage, the 15-percent tariff will be imposed if the two countries cannot reach an agreement on trade issues within a scheduled time; in the second stage, the 25-percent import tax will be imposed after evaluating the impact caused by the U.S. policies, the ministry said.
China has urged the United States to address its concerns as soon as possible, settle disputes through dialogue and consultation, and avoid damaging overall China-U.S. cooperation.
In a separate statement, opposing the U.S. tariff plan on imports from China, the MOC Friday urged the United States to apply the brakes and be careful not to put bilateral trade relations in jeopardy, calling the recent U.S. restrictive measures on China "a very bad precedent."
Overnight, U.S. President Donald Trump signed a memorandum that could impose tariffs on up to 60 billion dollars of imports from China.
The unilateral move triggered a market sell-off, as both countries' stock markets tumbled. It prompted the biggest percentage plunges in Wall Street's three major stock indexes in six weeks, and a 2.78-percent fall at the opening in the Shanghai bourse.