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The US had already levied 25 percent duties on $34 billion in Chinese goods on July 6, prompting swift in-kind retaliation from Beijing. Washington has long criticised China's trade surplus with the United States and has demanded Beijing cut it.

The tit-for-tat protectionist measures are poised to surge even higher, with the United States reviewing 10 percent duties on a further $200 billion in Chinese imports that it may even raise to 25 percent after a comment period ends on September 6. For instance, the major complaint is about the theft of United States intellectual property by Chinese firms.

Beijing said last Friday it would impose tariffs ranging from 5 per cent to 25 per cent on US$60 billion worth of American products.

While trade tensions are being ratcheting up, China's trade surplus with the USA stood at US$28.1 billion in July, close to the record-high in June, data released Wednesday showed.

July figures showed the US' trade deficit with China decrease only slightly.

The escalating trade conflict between the world's two largest economies...has seen the two sides impose tariffs on 34-billion dollars worth of each other's goods.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced a 25 percent charge on $16 billion worth of US goods including coal, grease, Vaseline, asphalt and plastic products, and recyclables.

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China's surplus with the United States shrank marginally to $28.09 billion last month from a record $28.97 billion in June.

The latest commentary from state media on Wednesday took a softer line after resorting to personal attacks against Trump earlier in the week, saying China could get through the storm but refrained from directly mentioning the US President.

Lighthizer said there were 279 new goods to be targeted in the dispute over China's policies promoting theft of American technology.

The latest $16 billion list will hit semiconductors from China, even though numerous basic chips in these products originate from the United States, Taiwan or South Korea.

The weak figures come as Beijing has been trying to encourage domestic consumption, with measures such as lowering tariffs for consumer goods, as part of its strategy to deal with the mounting pressure from the trade war, which is set to crimp the country's exports, traditionally one of the main drivers of growth.

John Neuffer, president and CEO of the Semiconductor Industry Association, said in a statement they were disappointed and puzzled why semiconductors remain on the final tariff list.

China's exports growth unexpectedly accelerated in July despite fresh US tariffs, while its trade surplus with the United States remained near record highs as Beijing and Washington ramped up a bitter dispute that has rattled financial markets.


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