Thomas Gallatin / August 14, 2019

Trump Delays New Round of China Tariffs

Eager to stave off a recession, China and the U.S. will now resume trade talks.

On Tuesday, the United States Trade Representative office said that it was delaying the implementation of a third round of tariffs against China — tariffs that President Donald Trump had announced two weeks ago. The White House noted that the 10% tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods would now be put off until Dec. 15th, with the rationale given of seeking to prevent Americans from having to pay higher prices on gift purchases prior to the Christmas holiday season.

While that explanation was certainly part of the calculation, as tariffs on foreign goods most impact consumers, in all likelihood the main reason for Trump’s tariff delay has much more to do with the recent news of an agreement to restart the stalled trade talks with China. It appears that both China and the U.S. are eager to get a trade deal done in the hopes of staving off a recession, fears of which have produced increasing volatility in the markets this month.

China is also clearly feeling pressure from the growing freedom movement in Hong Kong. The last thing Beijing wants is for these protests to spill out into mainland China, hence the recent movement of troops to the Hong Kong border. While China would love nothing more than to see Trump gone from office in 2020, with trouble growing in Hong Kong, Beijing can ill afford more economic contractions by putting off trade talks. Meanwhile, the tricky path Trump will have to navigate is to both vocally support Hong Kong’s freedom movement while at the same time work to secure a fair trade deal with China.

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