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US unafraid of trade war, will proceed with China tariffs: Treasury secretary

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US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Sunday insisted President Trump intends to implement US$60 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports, saying the measures will benefit the economy long-term.

[WASHINGTON] US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Sunday insisted President Trump intends to implement US$60 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports, saying the measures will benefit the economy long-term.

Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," Mr Mnuchin said unless a deal is reached with China, Mr Trump will implement the tariffs targeting sectors in which Washington says Beijing has stolen American technology.

"We are going to proceed with our tariffs. We are working on that," he said.

China warned the US on Friday that it was not afraid of a trade war as it threatened tariffs on US$3 billion worth of US goods in response to Mr Trump's new measures.

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Mr Mnuchin repeated Mr Trump's assertion that "we are not afraid of the trade war" - but added he had had "very productive conversations with the (Chinese) vice premier." "I'm cautiously hopeful we reach an agreement, but if not we are proceeding with these tariffs. We are not putting them on hold unless we have an acceptable agreement that the president signs off on," he said.

Meanwhile, despite slumps on the stock market in the wake of Mr Trump's announcement, the Treasury secretary said the measures spell long-term benefits for the economy.

"The market will go up and down in the short term (but) the real important issue is where will it be longer-term," Mr Mnuchin said.

"I think what we're doing is, long-term, very good for the economy, which was pressing for free and fair trade and to the extent that China is willing to open up their markets." "If they open up their markets, it's an enormous opportunity for US companies."

AFP