Trump pushes back on re­ports U.S. will re­move China tar­iffs

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Christophe­r Rugaber

WASH­ING­TON >> Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Fri­day dis­missed a Chi­nese of­fi­cial’s as­ser­tion that his ad­min­is­tra­tion has agreed to roll back some of the higher tar­iffs it’s im­posed on Chi­nese goods.

The Chi­nese of­fi­cial said Thurs­day that the two sides had agreed to a phased can­cel­la­tion of their tar­iff hikes as part of an emerg­ing agree­ment.

Trump’s push­back sug­gested that ne­go­ti­a­tions haven’t pro­gressed as far as hoped as the world’s two big­gest economies strug­gle to ne­go­ti­ate an end to their trade war, which has hurt both economies.

“They’d like to have a roll­back,” Trump told re­porters at the White House, re­fer­ring to the Chi­nese. “I haven’t agreed to any­thing.”

The two sides have been work­ing on an ini­tial “Phase 1” deal that was an­nounced Oct. 12 but that still isn’t fi­nal.

Fi­nan­cial mar­kets in the U.S. and glob­ally ral­lied Thurs­day at the prospect of an agree­ment to wind down the U.S.-China trade fight, but then fell Fri­day on Trump’s com­ments. The Dow Jones in­dus­trial av­er­age dropped 48 points, or 0.2%, in mid­day trad­ing.

Trump re­peated his claims that China wants a deal more than the United States and that the United States ben­e­fits from ex­tra tar­iff rev­enue. The pres­i­dent says the tar­iffs are

paid by China, but stud­ies con­ducted since the du­ties were im­posed find that Amer­i­cans busi­nesses and con­sumers are pay­ing them.

“Frankly, they want to make a deal a lot more than I do,” Trump said. “I’m very happy right now. We’re tak­ing in bil­lions of dol­lars.”

A pri­vate sec­tor source with knowl­edge of the talks said Thurs­day that the United States has agreed to sus­pend the du­ties Trump threat­ened to im­pose De­cem­ber 15th on about $160 bil­lion of Chi­nese im­ports as part of the agree­ment. But there is dis­sen­sion in the White House about whether and by how much to roll back 15% du­ties on an­other $112 bil­lion of goods im­posed Sept. 1.

Larry Kud­low also told Bloomberg News Thurs­day that if a deal was reached, it would in­clude re­duced tar­iffs.

“The White House never speaks with one voice,” Mary Lovely, a trade economist at the Peter­son In­sti­tute for In­ter­na­tional Eco­nom­ics, said Thurs­day.

De­spite Trump’s cav­a­lier com­ments, an­a­lysts say the ad­min­is­tra­tion has plenty of in­cen­tives to reach a deal soon. Trump said last month that the “Phase 1” pact would in­clude the pur­chase of tens of bil­lions of dol­lars of U.S. farm prod­ucts by China, which would ben­e­fit farm states, many of which sup­ported Trump in 2016.

The tar­iffs im­posed in Septem­ber cov­ered clothes, toys, and shoes, rais­ing prices for many widely-used con­sumer goods.

And the Dec. 15 tar­iffs would mostly hit pop­u­lar con­sumer prod­ucts such as smart phones and lap­tops. Not only would that also raise con­sumer costs, but those tar­iffs would af­fect many prod­ucts de­signed by U.S. com­pa­nies, for which China gets rel­a­tively lit­tle of the eco­nomic ben­e­fit.

“The De­cem­ber tar­iff round would largely hit prod­ucts de­signed and mar­keted by multi­na­tional firms, mostly with com­po­nents from the United States and its al­lies, and as­sem­bled in non-Chi­ne­se­owned fac­to­ries,” Lovely wrote on the Peter­son In­sti­tute’s web­site .

The trade war stems from the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s com­plaints that China is seek­ing to un­fairly boost its high-tech in­dus­tries by steal­ing U.S. tech­nol­ogy or forc­ing Amer­i­can com­pa­nies to share it as a con­di­tion of do­ing busi­ness there. Most busi­ness groups and China trade ex­perts agree that China has vi­o­lated trade rules and have largely sup­ported the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s tougher line.

Still, the tar­iffs have hurt both coun­tries’ economies. China’s growth slowed to an an­nual rate of 6% last month, a healthy pace for more ad­vanced economies but China’s slow­est in three decades.

In the United States, busi­nesses are deal­ing with the tar­iffs’ higher costs and are un­cer­tain about their in­ter­na­tional sup­ply chains. They have re­sponded by cut­ting their in­vest­ment spend­ing in new plants and equip­ment for two straight quar­ters. That’s low­ered U.S. eco­nomic growth to 1.9% at an an­nual rate in the July-Septem­ber quar­ter from 3.1% in the first three months of this year.

A re­port re­leased Wed­nes­day by a trade group op­posed to the du­ties found that Amer­i­cans paid $7.1 bil­lion in tar­iffs in Septem­ber, a record high for a sin­gle month.

Once a “phase 1” deal is reached, the two sides will still need to de­cide where the two lead­ers — Trump and China’s Xi Jin­ping — will sign the pact. Trump said Fri­day that they could hold a sum­mit in Iowa or else­where in U.S. “farm coun­try.”


Work­ers pack im­ported lob­sters at the Jing­shen seafood mar­ket in Bei­jing. U.S.-Chi­nese trade con­tracted again in Oc­to­ber, de­spite op­ti­mism about pos­si­ble progress in talks aimed at end­ing a tar­iff war that threat­ens global eco­nomic growth.

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