Mnuchin: Further Tariffs on China ‘Another 30-45 Days Away’

BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. (Reuters/Aaron P. Bernstein)

The United States is studying how proposed tariff increases on roughly another $300 billion in Chinese imports will affect consumers and is at least a month away from enacting them, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday.

Washington earlier this month hiked existing tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, prompting Beijing to retaliate, as talks to end a 10-month trade war between the world’s two largest economies stalled.

President Donald Trump has threatened to slap tariffs of up to 25% on an additional listing of Chinese imports worth about $300 billion.

“There won’t be any decision probably for another 30 to 45 days,” Mnuchin said at a hearing with U.S. lawmakers, adding that he had spoken with Walmart Inc’s chief financial officer about how the tariffs will impact consumer prices.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has said its prices would rise because of the higher tariffs on Chinese goods.

“That’s something I can assure you the president will be focused on before we make any decisions,” Mnuchin told the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee.

Mnuchin told reporters earlier that U.S. officials were not currently scheduled to go to Beijing for the next round of negotiations, CNBC reported.

No talks between top Chinese and U.S. negotiators have been scheduled since the last round ended on May 10, the same day Trump increased tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25% from 10%.

Negotiations between the United States and China have stalled since early May, when Chinese officials sought major changes to the text of a proposed deal that the Trump administration says had been largely agreed.

The Chinese government’s top diplomat Wang Yi said on Wednesday that China’s door would always be open to further trade talks with the United States, but added that Beijing would not accept any unequal agreements.

The acrimony between the two countries has intensified since last week when Washington put Chinese telecom equipment company Huawei Technologies Co Ltd on a blacklist that curbs Huawei’s access to U.S.-made components.

The move is a potentially devastating blow for the company that has rattled technology supply chains and investors.

Some mobile operators, including the Ymobile unit of Japan’s Softbank Corp and rival KDDI Corp, put launch plans for Huawei’s new P30 Lite smartphone on hold on Wednesday.

Another big Chinese tech firm, video surveillance equipment maker Hikvision Digital Technology Co Ltd, also may face limits on its ability to buy U.S. technology, the New York Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter, sending the firm’s Shenzhen-listed shares down 5.54 percent.