US tariff hike takes effect, China vows retaliation

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech MORE just after midnight made good on his threat to hike tariffs on Chinese goods, escalating a trade war between the world's two largest economies.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection raised duties from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of imports from China despite Chinese negotiators beginning talks in Washington on Thursday.

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China’s Commerce Ministry said it “deeply regrets” the U.S. decision, according to a Reuters report, and said Beijing would take necessary countermeasures.

The increase took effect despite negotiations by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerGOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 Pelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinLawmakers push spending deadline to Thursday The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by UANI — House Dems charge Trump with abuse, obstruction of Congress in impeachment articles White House, Democrats edge closer to deal on trade MORE on Thursday.

The trio was expected to continue talks on Friday in an attempt to rescue a deal that could end a 10-month trade war that has roiled global markets.

The Chinese Commerce Ministry said negotiations were continuing and it “hopes the United States can meet China halfway, make joint efforts, and resolve the issue through cooperation and consultation.”

The tariff hike had originally been put on hold as Washington and Beijing worked out a permanent trade deal, but was renewed after the Trump administration accused China of reneging on previously agreed-upon terms. 

The president has seen tariffs as an effective weapon that could be wielded to rectify what he sees as trade imbalances with both traditional allies and adversaries, slapping levies on China and European allies, among other countries. The tactic has rankled Republicans and Democrats alike on Capitol Hill who view tariffs as anathema to the concept of free trade.

Trump took to Twitter Friday morning to defend the move, doubling down on what he says are the benefits of tariffs.

“Talks with China continue in a very congenial manner - there is absolutely no need to rush - as Tariffs are NOW being paid to the United States by China of 25% on 250 Billion Dollars worth of goods & products,” Trump tweeted in a lengthy thread in his first comments since the tariffs were officially implemented.

“Tariffs will bring in FAR MORE wealth to our country than even a phenomenal deal of the traditional kind. Also, much easier & quicker to do.” 

Trump added that the latest levies on Beijing will be used to buy agricultural products from U.S. farmers, which will then be sent to impoverished countries as humanitarian assistance.

Updated at 7:41 a.m.