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Tariffs against China will take effect Friday: Trump

President Donald Trump made clear Thursday that U.S. tariffs against Chinese imports will take effect early Friday and that he's prepared to sharply escalate a trade war between the world's two biggest economies.

President Donald Trump boards Air Force One on July 5, 2018. Trump made clear that U.S. tariffs against Chinese imports will take effect early Friday and that he's prepared to sharply escalate a trade war between the world's two biggest economies. | AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump made clear Thursday that U.S. tariffs against Chinese imports will take effect early Friday and that he’s prepared to sharply escalate a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.

The administration was set to start imposing tariffs at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time Friday on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports, a first step in what could become an accelerating series of tariffs. China has promised a swift retaliatory strike on an equal amount of U.S. goods.

Trump discussed the trade war Thursday with journalists who flew with him to Montana for a campaign rally. The president said U.S. tariffs on an additional $16 billion in Chinese goods are set to take effect in two weeks.

After that, the hostilities could intensify: Trump said the U.S. is ready to target an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports — and then $300 billion more — if Beijing refuses to yield to U.S. demands and continues to retaliate.

That would bring the total of targeted Chinese goods to potentially $550 billion — more than the $506 billion in goods that China actually shipped to the United States last year.

The Trump administration has argued that China has deployed predatory tactics in a push to overtake U.S. technological dominance. These tactics include cyber-theft as well as requiring American companies to hand over technology in exchange for access to China’s market.

AP Writer Catherine Lucey on Air Force One contributed to this report.