President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he was delaying plans to impose an additional 5 percent duty on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods until Oct. 15, or two weeks later than now scheduled.
“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% to 30%), from October 1st to October 15th,” Trump said in a pair of tweets.
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The move followed China’s announcement earlier on Wednesday that it was exempting 16 items from the retaliatory tariffs it has imposed on American products in response to Trump’s tariff moves.
Beijing’s new tariff exemptions cover imports of medicines, insecticides and other products, but not U.S. agricultural goods. Chinese tariffs on U.S. soybeans, pork, corn and other agricultural commodities have had a major impact on U.S. farmers.
Still, Trump told reporters earlier on Wednesday that he welcomed the action.
“I think they did the right thing. I think it was good for them,” Trump said in the Oval Office. “But they took them off, yeah I think it was a gesture, OK. But it was a big move. People were shocked. I wasn’t shocked.”
Trump’s decision to delay his latest tariff increase comes as the two sides are preparing to hold face-to-face high-level talks in early October for the first time since a meeting in Shanghai in late July.
Trump’s frustration over the lack of progress in the talks prompted him in August to once again escalate tariffs and Beijing to once again respond.
Before Wednesday’s announcement, tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods were scheduled to rise to 30 percent on Oct. 1, from 25 percent currently. That has now been pushed back two weeks.
In addition, Trump has begun to impose a 15 percent duty on another $300 billion worth of Chinese goods. The first batch was hit on Sept. 1 and the second batch will be hit on Dec. 15 unless a deal is reached to end the trade war.
Trump, in his remarks to reporters, repeated his contention that U.S. tariffs that have hit the lion’s share of Chinese imports were causing Beijing to rethink its hardball approach to U.S. demands on intellectual property, market access and other issues.
“Their supply chain is breaking up,” he said. “The supply chain of China, which was this unbreakable, powerful tool that they had, it’s breaking up like a toy. Because companies are moving out, and China wants to make a deal. We’ll see what happens. We have to make the right deal for this country.”
Adam Behsudi contributed to this report.