Washington and Beijing are locked in a battle over US accusations that China's export economy benefits from unfair policies and subsidies

Beijing (AFP) - China said Wednesday it will impose 25 percent tariffs on a further $16 billion of US goods, making good on its promise to retaliate against new American levies.

The announcement is the latest round in a tit-for-tat trade conflict between the world’s two largest economies which has left global markets on edge.

China’s levies will come into force at 12:01 on August 23, according to a statement on the finance ministry’s web site.

The decision follows Washington’s announcement Tuesday that it will implement levies on $16 billion of Chinese products starting from the same date.

The taxes were the second tranche of a planned $50 billion package that began on July 6 when the US slapped duties on $34 billion in Chinese goods, provoking a dollar-for-dollar response from Beijing.

Washington and Beijing are locked in a battle over US accusations that China’s export economy benefits from unfair policies and subsidies, and especially from the theft of American technological know-how.

US President Donald Trump has boasted that trade wars are “easy to win” and warned he would hit virtually all Chinese imports if Beijing does not back down and take steps to reduce its $335 billion surplus with the US.

Washington has so far lined up an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports and last week Trump said he could raise tariffs on those products to 25 percent instead of the previously touted 10 percent.

Beijing has called on US officials to be “cool headed”, but has warned it will retaliate against any tariffs with its own measures.

However, the US imports far more from China than it exports to it, meaning Beijing may at some point need to look for other means of retaliation.