Donald Trump has stepped up his warnings that US companies will be punished for shifting production overseas, as China and his vice president-elect tried to play down the significance of a controversial phone call with Taiwan’s president.

The US president-elect on Sunday reinforced a campaign pledge that he would impose a punitive 35 per cent tariff on US companies that import products from their factories abroad, a step that would roil global supply chains and meet fierce resistance from business.

In a series of early-morning tweets, he told companies considering offshoring that his plans would “make leaving financially difficult”, adding: “Please be forewarned prior to making a very expensive mistake!”

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