The world is waiting with bated breath to see if the threatened trade war between China and the USA kicks off as expected.
Investors are on edge and markets in Asia have slumped to levels last seen in November.
The markets are waiting for US President Donald Trump to confirm he is imposing billions of dollars of tariffs on Chinese imports to the States.
If he does, the world is waiting for China to respond.
Trump has also threatened to set up tariffs on imports from the European Union.
Economists and politicians fear a trade war between the world’s two largest economies could plunge world growth into chaos.
China has announced they will wait for Trump to make the first move, and he may have an advantage due to time zoning – the USA is 12 hours behind China.
Trump claims China threatens the US economy ‘very badly’.
He told a TV audience: “They have been treating us very badly for many years and I hope they change their ways. That’s why we were at a big disadvantage with the World Trade Organisation.
“We’re not planning anything now, but if they don’t treat us properly we will be doing something.”
Trump has suggested the US will place a 25% tariff – an import duty – on a list of goods from China that will add around $34 billion to their cost for American consumers and businesses. China has pledged to do the same on goods from the USA.
Some forecasters predict that a trade war between the nations would cost up to 4% of global growth – around $800 million in lost growth, production and jobs.
In Europe, ministers are looking to do a deal by sweetening trade tariffs on US cars to make them cheaper for European consumers.
The US has a 2.5% tariff on cars imported from the EU, but imposes a 10% duty on US cars.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker is proposing the deal is sealed at a meeting later this month.
Trump recently claimed the EU was “possibly just as bad as China” when it comes to trade.
He said: “It’s terrible what the EU does to us. They treat us very badly, they treat us very poorly.
“Take a look at the car situation. They send a Mercedes in, we can’t send our cars in.”