Trump delays some tariffs on Chinese imports

The US is delaying imposing tariffs on some imports from China until December 15 because of “health, safety, national security and other factors”.

The products include mobile phones, laptops, video game consoles, some toys, computer monitors and certain footwear and clothing.

The surprise news from the United States Trade Representative office (USTR) sparked a 5 per cent jump in Apple shares.

Other items facing a 10 per cent tariff will go ahead as planned on September 1.

The USTR’s announcement was released minutes after China’s Ministry of Commerce said Vice Premier Liu He had a phone call with US trade officials.

Technology investors welcomed news of the exemptions, pushing an index of chip stocks up 2.8 per cent. Wall Street’s three main share indexes rose more than 1.5 per cent. In the UK, stocks exposed to global trade also rose, with Glencore up 2.5 per cent.

US President Donald Trump said on August 1, he would impose a 10 per cent tariff on $300bn of Chinese goods, blaming China for not following through on promises to buy more American agricultural products.

He also personally criticised Chinese President Xi Jinping for failing to do more to stem sales of the synthetic opioid fentanyl amid an opioid overdosing crisis in the US.

But in a tweet on Tuesday, Mr Trump hinted that he was expecting something in return, suggesting that China’s failure to “buy big” from US farmers could be about to change.

The USTR’s announcement comes amid growing concerns about a global economic slowdown. Goldman Sachs said on Sunday that fears of the US-China trade war leading to a recession were increasing.

Earlier on Tuesday, China’s chief trade negotiators, Vice Premier Liu He and Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, spoke to their US counterparts, Treasury Secretary Steven Munching and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The Xinhua news agency said that the Chinese officials issued “a solemn protest” against the punitive duties set to come into effect on September 1. Mr Lighthizer and Mr Liu have scheduled another telephone call in two weeks.

The two sides were due to hold another round of meetings in Washington in September, but the deterioration in relations in the past two weeks cast doubt on whether the talks would take place.

Additional details and lists of the specific product types affected by the announcement are due to be published by USTR later. –BBC

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