HONG KONG: Most Asian equities sank on Friday as investors fret that the US will ramp up its trade war with China by imposing fresh tariffs, while chip-makers were among the biggest losers following a sharp sell-off in New York.
While emerging market contagion fears continue to stalk trading floors, Donald Trump’s protectionist drive returned to the fore following an indication Japan was next in the firing line, while NAFTA talks with Canada amble along, reports AFP.There was some relief that Trump did not immediately impose levies on $200 billion of Chinese goods after the passing of a deadline for a public consultation.
The threatened tariffs would add to the $50 billion in imports already targeted and mark a major step up in the long-running battle between the world’s top two economies.
Beijing has warned it will immediately retaliate against any measures, fuelling fears of an all-out trade war that is already showing signs of causing a drag on the global economy.
The president also appeared to be preparing to set his sights on Japan, with an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal saying his good relationship with Tokyo “will end as soon as I tell them how much they have to pay”.
While Trump has mostly taken out his anger with China and Europe, he has often in the past complained of an uneven trade relationship with Japan.
Japan’s Nikkei led losses, ending 0.8 percent lower with exporters hurt by a stronger yen as dealers ran to the safe-haven unit for shelter from market turmoil.“The timing of the WSJ story is significant as it serves as a reminder before an expected Japan-US summit later this month, when trade consultations will also likely be held,” said Daisuke Karakama, chief market economist at Mizuho Bank.
Sydney lost 0.3 percent and Singapore dropped 0.4 percent. Seoul gave up 0.3 percent and Manila was 1.1 percent off, while Taipei shed 0.7 percent.