US trade groups have joined in a chorus of opposition to the latest escalation of tariffs Washington threatened for all the Chinese imports, saying that “enough is enough” as intensified tensions roil stock markets, ruin businesses and rid farmers of their most important export markets.

Last Friday (Aug 23) , US President Donald Trump announced that he would hike duties on US$250 billion (S$347 billion) worth of Chinese goods from the current 25 per cent to 30 per cent starting from Oct 1, and the remaining imports of US$300 billion from the planned 10 per cent to 15 per cent from Sept 1.

The move followed Beijing’s plan last Thursday to raise tariffs on US$75 billion worth of US goods in retaliation to the US side’s planned taxing on an additional US$300 billion worth of Chinese imports, which was announced earlier this month.

China’s Ministry of Commerce said on Saturday that the country is “firmly opposed” to Washington’s “unilateral and bullying acts of trade protectionism and extreme pressure”, and urging it to immediately stop its “erroneous practices”.

“Enough is enough – as evidenced by today’s (Aug 23) 623-point drop in the Dow, global markets are reeling on fears of a global recession,” said Mr Gary Shapiro, president and chief executive officer of the Consumer Technology Association based in Arlington, Virginia. “And today’s announcement only inflicts more pain on American businesses, workers and families.”

“These escalating tariffs are the worst economic mistake since the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 – a decision that catapulted our country into the Great Depression,” Mr Shapiro said in a statement. “Instead of making America great again, the president is using tariffs to make a great economic mistake – again.”

He continued: “How much longer will our families, companies and economy be forced to bear the financial burden of this misguided trade policy?”

Mr Rick Helfenbein, president and chief executive officer of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, also lamented that what the US businesses now get is “a 1930s trade strategy” that will be a disaster for consumers, businesses, and the economy.

“Meanwhile, the president has said he wants American businesses to stop working in China, yet he doesn’t seem to understand that moving a supply chain is incredibly complicated and expensive,” Mr Helfenbein said, referring to Mr Trump’s tweet last Friday in which he “hereby ordered” US companies to seek alternatives to doing business in China.

“It takes years to build relationships that meet compliance standards and deliver quality products, yet we have been given weeks and in this case days,” Mr Helfenbein said.

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