Asia Business Channel

Trump “flip-flops” on China trade tariffs (again)


U.S President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he would delay imposing new tariffs on China on September 1st as previously announced. Trump said that the U.S. would delay until December 15th his plan to impose new tariffs on tens of billions of dollars worth of cellphones, laptop computers, toys, shoes and clothes made in China.

Trump said he reconsidered the September 1st tariff start date because “We’re doing this for Christmas season, just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. customers.”

Trump has consistently said that China pays for the tariffs that have been imposed and his remarks on Tuesday are the first time he has recognized that U.S. consumers are actually paying for the tariffs.

Trumps decision came after multiple business leaders said that the September tariffs would negatively impact consumers before the Christmas buying season, while economists said that the results of a continuing multi-year trade war with China would cause the U.S. economy to grind to a halt in 2020, just before the presidential elections.

The latest flip-flop by Trump is part of a now-familiar pattern that has seen him turn up the heat on China by threatening tariffs and then pull back as stock indexes weaken or he receives intense criticism.

Others in Washington D.C., said that the presidents move to change the tariffs date is just part of his plan to change the news cycle which has been extremely critical of the president after a series of racist remarks and his actions as 31 American’s were killed in mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

An additional pattern of the president is that he often makes announcements without other parts of the government knowing what he’s going to do, and as a result, at the same time Trump was making his announcement, the United States trade representative said in a statement on Tuesday that the new 10% tariffs would still take effect as planned on Sept. 1 on some goods from China.

Trump’s decision to delay the tariffs was announced by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer after he had a teleconference with China’s Vice Premiere, Liu He, who is China’s lead trade negotiator.

Trump had announced the additional tariffs on August 1 after Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, returned from talks with the Chinese in Shanghai. Many sources in the White House said that Trump, angered that China had not made massive purchases of agriculture products. At that time Trump criticized Beijing’s trade officials and said that, “As usual, China said they were going to be buying ‘big’ from our great American Farmers. So far they have not done what they said.”

With each new set of tweets from the president and the addition of U.S. tariffs, Beijing has hardened its attitude. One of China’s conditions for a deal is that Washington removes all of its tariffs on Chinese goods.

Trump has sought massive Chinese purchases of American goods in the hope of narrowing China’s fat trade surplus while has administration has pushed for structural reforms in the way China’s central government runs its economy and requirements that U.S. companies hand over their technology secrets in order to access China’s large markets.

Craig Allen, President of the U.S.-China Business Council, which represents many large multinational firms doing business in China. “Where do we come out of all this? Final decisions haven’t been made,.”




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