Trump Says He’ll Delay Increase in Tariffs on China, Citing Progress in Trade Talks

WASHINGTON (The Washington Post) —
President Donald Trump looks on during a meeting with China’s Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval Office at the White House, February 22, 2019. (Reuters/Carlos Barria/File Photo)

President Donald Trump said Sunday that he will delay a scheduled March 2 increase in the tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports in order to give negotiators more time to reach a comprehensive trade deal with Beijing.

The announcement, which the president had hinted at in recent days, came in a pair of tweets just after 5:30 p.m.

“I am pleased to report that the U.S. has made substantial progress in our trade talks with China on important structural issues including intellectual property protection, technology transfer, agriculture, services, currency, and many other issues. As a result of these very productive talks, I will be delaying the U.S. increase in tariffs,” the president wrote.

The administration released no details. But, assuming the talks continue to make headway, the president said he plans to host Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida estate, to finalize terms of the agreement.

That meeting is expected late next month.

The announcement capped a whirlwind week of talks between U.S. and Chinese officials that made progress sufficient enough for the Chinese delegation to extend through the weekend its Washington visit, which was scheduled to end Friday.

Trump’s announcement Sunday, while welcomed by businesses that feared the automatic tariff escalation planned for next weekend, will also stoke trade hardliners’ concerns that the president is in too much of a rush to make a deal with Beijing.

Trump insists that he is intent on securing far-reaching structural reforms in China’s state-led economic system, something few analysts believe possible any time soon.

“There remains a yawning gap between the two sides on core structural issues. This means that any deal is likely to be a relatively narrow and temporary one that obviates a further escalation of trade tensions but leaves existing tariffs in place,” said Eswar Prasad, former head of the International Monetary Fund’s China unit.

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