Trade war: Trump delays increase in tariff on Chinese products by 15 days

Bloomberg Washington/Beijing | Updated on September 12, 2019

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US President Donald Trump said he was postponing the imposition of 5 per cent extra tariffs on Chinese goods by two weeks, a move that delays the next escalation of the trade war and brightens the backdrop for upcoming negotiations.

“At the request of the Vice Premier of China, Liu He, and due to the fact that the People’s Republic of China will be celebrating their 70th Anniversary on October 1st, we have agreed, as a gesture of good will, to move the increased tariffs on 250 Billion Dollars worth of goods (25 per cent to 30 per cent), from October 1st to October 15th,” Trump wrote Wednesday on Twitter.

S&P 500 futures climbed 0.5 per cent and the offshore yuan strengthened 0.3 per cent against the dollar. The yen fell.

Negotiators are due to meet in Washington in coming weeks to push forward talks to end the trade war, which is causing increasing economic damage as it stretches into its second year. There is little sign that substantive progress is being made on the two countries differences, while Trump still has further tariff increases lined up.

“The negotiators have had a year to come to an agreement, and they remain structurally at odds on key issues,” said Andrew Polk, co-founder of research firm Trivium China in Beijing. “Another two-week reprieve doesn’t change those fundamentals.”

On Wednesday, China announced a range of US goods to be exempted from 25 per cent extra tariffs enacted last year. While that may create some good will in Washington, China is keeping the pressure on US agricultural exports like soy beans produced in key Trump-supporting states.

An editorial on Wednesday in the Communist Party-controlled Global Times newspaper said the exemptions were a goodwill gesture that would benefit some Chinese and US companies. The paper’s editor tweeted that he saw Trump’s decision to postpone extra tariffs as creating good vibes for the early-October talks.

“Trump’s goodwill gesture suggests that the trade war is starting to bite and the US may be more eager to close a deal,” said Chua Hak Bin, an economist at Maybank Kim Eng Research Pte in Singapore. “The clock is ticking and Trump’s approval ratings are sliding, with manufacturing now in recession.”

Trump escalated the US-China trade war in August when he announced an increase in the levy on $250 billion of Chinese goods to 30 per cent, from 25 per cent, starting October 1. Further increases are planned for December.

“The delay shows Trump does not want to increase tariffs before the trade talks in early October, and it creates good conditions,” said Tommy Xie, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp in Singapore. “It adds to the hope that there’ll be good news from the October meeting, and markets will wait and see.”

Published on September 12, 2019

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