No relief from China as US postpones some tariffs - GulfToday

No relief from China as US postpones some tariffs

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US tariff delay comes amid growing concerns about a global economic slowdown.

WASHINGTON: China made no concessions to the United States after President Donald Trump postponed threatened tariffs on some Chinese imports until mid-December, senior US officials said on Wednesday, adding that talks aimed at resolving the trade fight would continue and markets should be patient.

“This was not a quid pro quo,” US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC television in an interview, using a Latin phrase meaning a favor exchanged for a favor.

Trump on Tuesday backed off his Sept. 1 deadline for imposing 10% tariffs on thousands of Chinese imports, including technology products, clothing and footwear, pushing it to Dec. 15 for certain items. US and Chinese officials also announced renewed trade discussions.

Both developments drew cautious relief from retailers and technology groups as the world’s two largest economies enter the second year of their trade dispute.

Trump’s tariff delay comes amid growing concerns about a global economic slowdown. US stocks fell sharply on Wednesday as bond markets issued a possible recession signal with the US Treasury yield curve inverting for the first time since 2007.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, in a separate interview on Fox Business Network, said the decision to delay the additional tariffs was made to limit the pain on US businesses, which already had contracts to buy Chinese goods for the holiday selling season and had no way to avoid passing costs on to consumers.

Trump on Tuesday said he delayed the tariffs to shield Christmas sales from the tariffs.

Looking for concessions from China in exchange for the delayed tariffs is the “totally wrong way to look at it,” Navarro said.

“The whole premise of what we’re trying to do is pain on them, not pain on us,” Navarro said. “And so... if we simply put the tariffs on Sept. 1 that would be more pain on us, rather than pain on them. That’s just silly.” Navarro declined to say what US negotiators would seek to achieve in the talks with Chinese officials before the tariffs take effect. Another phone call is scheduled between the two sides later this month.

“These negotiations will happen behind closed doors,” Navarro said. “People just need to be patient.” Ross said on CNBC that it was too early to assess where US-China trade talks stand, adding that a date has not been set for another round of face-to-face discussions.

“Until something is really formally announced and mutually agreed, it’s a little premature to say where anybody is,” Ross said.

China’s economy stumbled more sharply than expected in July, with industrial output growth cooling to a more than 17-year low, according to data released on Wednesday, as the intensifying US trade dispute took a heavier toll on businesses and consumers.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday backed off his plan to impose 10% tariffs on remaining Chinese imports on Sept. 1, delaying duties on cellphones, laptops and many other consumer goods in the hopes of blunting their impact on US holiday sales.

The new tariff will, instead, be effective from Dec. 15 for thousands of products including clothing and footwear, possibly buttressing the holiday selling season from some of the fallout from the protracted trade spat between the world’s two largest economies.

“We’re doing this for Christmas season, just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. customers,” Trump told reporters in New Jersey. “Just in case they might have an impact on people, what we’ve done is we’ve delayed it so that they won’t be relevant to the Christmas shopping season.”

The US Trade Representative’s Office announced the decision just minutes after China’s Ministry of Commerce said Vice Premier Liu He conducted a phone call with US trade officials.

Liu agreed with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to speak again by phone within the next two weeks, the ministry said.

Trump has said the two sides may still meet in early September as scheduled. But the Trump administration still plans to impose 10% tariffs on thousands of Chinese food, clothing and other consumer electronics products beginning Sept. 1.

Among these are smartwatches from Apple and Fitbit, smart speakers from Amazon.com Inc, Google and Apple, and Bluetooth headphones and other devices.

The delay in imposition of the tariffs provides some relief to retailers. Although most stores would have stocked their holiday merchandise before the earlier September deadline, some might have faced the tariffs for fill-in orders late in the holiday shopping season.

Trump announced the Sept. 1 tariffs less than two weeks ago, blaming China for not following through on promises to buy more American agricultural products.

Agencies