USA files trade cases at WTO against five trading partners

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"It is the common duty of Europe and China, but also America and Russian Federation, not to destroy [the global trade order] but to improve it, not to start trade wars, which turned into hot conflicts so often in our history", Tusk said in Beijing. And separate USA tariffs on aluminum and steel, which hit Canada, Mexico and the European Union, have also led to higher prices on some products, as NPR reported earlier this month.

The latest USA tariffs were announced days after China retaliated for an earlier round of US import taxes of up to 25 percent on items worth approximately $50 billion.

The move is unusually swift, coming less than one week after the U.S. Trade Representative proposed 10 percent tariffs on a $200 list of Chinese goods.

The Center for China in the World Economy hinted that China could strike back by sanctioning Apple.

Chinese stock markets, which have struggled recently amid the escalating trade dispute between the United States and China, traded down slightly on Monday.

Long accused of protectionist tactics that make it a hard place for foreign firms, China is trying to reverse that narrative amid the escalating trade war by approving huge investments, such as a $10-billion petrochemicals project by Germany's BASF.

On July 12, China's commerce ministry issued a statement flatly denying that it had stolen USA technology, while charging that the United States had broken terms of mutual agreement "in order to serve the country's political needs".

Trade contributes less to China's economic growth than it did a decade ago but still supports millions of jobs.

A general view of a container port in Shanghai.

The data comes as the government attempts to curb growing debt and as trade tensions with the United States escalate.

For January-June China's trade surplus with the United States rose to $133.76 billion, compared with about $117.51 billion in the same period a year ago.

Precisely at the preparatory meeting of this Summit, China and the European Union expressed opposition and committed to join forces against the increase of protectionist measures if persisting, could unleash a recession. Both official and private business surveys reported softer export orders last month.

The world's second largest economy has already felt the pinch from a multi-year crackdown on riskier lending that has driven up corporate borrowing costs, prompting the central bank to pump out more cash by cutting reserve requirements for lenders. This suggests concerns about the trade war are overblown, he said.

Seeking to cusion trade blow? The nominal growth in resident income was 8.7 percent in the first six months.

China has repeatedly said it can weather a trade war better than the USA but the prospect of tariffs on as much as $500bn of Chinese goods has anxious investors and businesses.

In a sign Beijing is seeking alternative supplies of the commodities as it hit U.S. imports with extra tariffs, China had dropped import tariffs on a range of animal feed ingredients from several Asian countries.

The EU, while sharing Trump's concern over Chinese trade abuses if not his prescription of tariffs, has largely rebuffed efforts by China to pressure it into a strong stance against Trump.

China's economic growth slowed in the quarter ending in June, adding to challenges for Beijing as its tariff battle with Washington escalates.