By Ovunc Kutlu
President Donald Trump signed Thursday an executive order that imposes $60 billion in tariffs on imports from China.
"I view them as a friend," Trump said during a press conference in the White House, but added “it is out of control," referring to trade relations between the two biggest economies in the world.
"It could be about $60 billion, but that's really a fraction of what we are talking about," he said, stressing that "this is the first of many" actions his administration would take in order to trim the trade deficit.
The U.S. trade deficit with China was $375 billion in 2017, while the total trade deficit grew 12 percent from the previous year to $566 billion last year
"President Trump’s Administration will propose for public comment adding 25 percent additional tariffs on certain products that are supported by China’s unfair industrial policy," the White House said in a release.
Trump stressed trade relations between the two countries should be "reciprocal," adding that his government is negotiating with their Chinese counterparts.
He also argued there is an issue of intellectual property theft with China which costs the U.S. billions of dollars every year.
"Technology is probably the most important part of our economy," U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in the conference.
Lighthizer said months of study showed "China does have a policy of foreign technology transfer," thus the U.S. will put tariffs on some Chinese products and investment restrictions on China in the high tech industry.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said "intellectual property rights are our future," giving an example that the U.S. trademark office in June will issue 10 million patents.
The Trump administration also imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports two weeks ago, in an attempt to lower trade deficit.
Tariffs on China, however, could initiate a trade war as Beijing has repeatedly warned that it would impose tariffs on American exports to China.
With worries over a potential trade war, the U.S. stock market took a dive.
After Trump's press conference, major indexes in Wall Street were down 1 percent around 1.30 p.m. (1730GMT) and the dollar was up 0.1 percent against the Chinese yuan.