Trump extends tariff deadline after Washington talks

Bloomberg

Tue, Feb 26, 2019 - Page 1

US President Donald Trump said he would extend a deadline to raise tariffs on Chinese goods beyond this week, citing “substantial progress” in the latest round of talks that wrapped up on Sunday in Washington.

“The US has made substantial progress in our trade talks with China on important structural issues, including intellectual property protection, technology transfer, agriculture, services, currency, and many other issues,” Trump said in a Twitter posting. “As a result of these very productive talks, I will be delaying the US increase in tariffs now scheduled for March 1.”

Xinhua news agency echoed Trump’s tweet, citing “substantial” progress, but a commentary published later cautioned that the talks might face “new uncertainties,” noting that bilateral trade frictions are “long-term, complicated and arduous.”

If the sides make further headway in negotiations, Trump said he and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) planned to meet at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida to conclude an agreement, though he did not offer any details on when the meeting might be or how long he expects the tariff extension to last.

The latest series of US-China trade meetings was supposed to end on Friday, but Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (劉鶴) extended his visit to Washington into the weekend.

US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said on Friday that a leaders’ meeting at Mar-a-Lago was being tentatively planned for late next month.

Xi would be unlikely to be able to leave China before the end of the annual “Two Sessions” meetings, which are due to finish in the middle of the month.

Pushing back the deadline to more than double US tariffs on more than US$200 billion of Chinese goods would help soothe investor worries that a ratcheting-up of the trade dispute would derail a global economic expansion that is already showing signs of softening.

The Office of the US Trade Representative plans to issue a formal order this week to delay the rise in tariffs.

The latest round of negotiations produced an agreement on a currency provision, according to Mnuchin, who did not elaborate on its details.

Bloomberg News reported earlier that the US was asking China to keep the value of the yuan stable to neutralize any effort to soften the blow of US tariffs.

Still, the negotiating teams had not struck a deal as of late Saturday on how to monitor any currency pact.

The Trump administration has said it would insist on strong enforcement measures as part of any deal after complaining that Beijing failed to act on past reform pledges.

There is a lot of skepticism in the US that China will live up to any promises it makes.

US Senator Ron Wyden called for any deal to be shared publicly with the US Congress before it was agreed, so “we can judge whether it amounts to a better deal than the status quo or simply reheats the leftover promises made to prior administrations.”