No one gains in a trade war, China's premier says

FILE PHOTO: China's Premier Li Keqiang delivers a news conference with French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China June 25, 2018. Fred Dufour/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

SOFIA (Reuters) - No one will gain from a trade war, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday, speaking hours after the United States and China slapped tit-for-tat duties on $34 billion worth of the other’s imports.

“Trade war is never a solution,” Li said at a news briefing with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov in Sofia before a summit with 16 central and eastern European countries.

“China would never start a trade war but if any party resorts to an increase of tariffs then China will take measures in response to protect development interests.”

The United States’ deadline for tariffs to take effect passed at 0401 GMT on Friday and shortly after China said it was forced to retaliate, confirming later after some market confusion that it had implemented retaliatory tariffs.

U.S. President Donald Trump has warned the United States may ultimately target over $500 billion worth of Chinese goods, or roughly the total amount of U.S. imports from China last year.

Li said no one would emerge a winner from a trade war.

“It benefits no one and it would undermine the multilateral free trade process,” he said. “If one insists on waging a trade war it would hurt others and themselves.”

Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova and Angel Krasimirov; Writing by Jason Hovet; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky