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The two sides have shown no signs of letting up, with the USA earlier Wednesday saying it will begin collecting 25 percent tariffs on another $16 billion in Chinese goods on August 23, and Chinese media resorting to personal attacks against Trump earlier in the week.

"[The] trade data don't show any significant impact from the first round of USA tariffs", Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, said in a note to investors.

China has already retaliated against the United States with its own tariffs and proposed others if Washington goes ahead with all its threats. In fact, China is America's second-largest crude oil customer after Canada.

March 22:Trump announces plans to hit$50 billion worth of Chinese goods with a 25% tariff.China announces tariffsin retaliation to the steel and aluminum duties and promises a response to the latest United States announcement.

July figures showed the US' trade deficit with China decrease only slightly.

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The 25 percent tariffs also will apply to a broad range of Chinese electronics, plastics, chemicals and railway equipment that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has said benefit from the "Made in China 2025" industrial plan, aimed at making China competitive in high-technology industries. Unipec and Sinopec are Asia's largest refiner and biggest buyer of US oil. The step brought the total worth of Chinese goods facing a 25 percent tariff to $50 billion. Those duties could be in place after a comment period ends on 6 September. It would take a few more weeks to revise the list and make programming changes at U.S. Customs and Border Protection to begin collecting the duties.

The dispute over tariffs has continued to escalate as both sides exchange threats.

The weak figures come as Beijing has been trying to encourage domestic consumption, with measures such as lowering tariffs for consumer goods, as part of its strategy to deal with the mounting pressure from the trade war, which is set to crimp the country's exports, traditionally one of the main drivers of growth. That's soon enough to be used by Trump as a rallying argument, but late enough so that adverse effects will not occur before January 2019.

"We're not yet past the point of no return but we're edging closer to it", said Wang Tao, head of China economic research at UBS AG in Hong Kong. The world's largest exporter, China is still benefiting from robust global demand even as increasing tensions and rising trade barriers with the U.S. weigh on the outlook. It would likely have to impose penalties on USA companies doing business in China to make up the difference.