Trump Says China Tariffs Will Increase as Trade Deal Hangs in the Balance

on May9
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Mr. Trump’s decision to impose 25 percent tariffs on nearly one-third of all Chinese products is the biggest trade action that Mr. Trump has taken so far. The higher tax would hit many consumer products that Americans rely on from Beijing, like seafood, luggage and electronics, raising prices for American companies and their customers across a large portion of sectors.

Talks resumed at 5 p.m. Thursday at the offices of the United States trade representative. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, and Robert Lighthizer, Mr. Trump’s top trade negotiator, were expected to have dinner with Liu He, China’s vice premier, and some members of the Chinese delegation. A Trump administration official familiar with the plans said that the meal would not have ceremonial trappings.

Barring any last-minute decision to rescind the tariff increase, the new 25 percent rate will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday. But the higher tariffs would hit only products that leave China as of May 10, not those already in transit. That could provide some additional time for the two sides to reach an agreement. Mr. Trump could also rescind the tariffs once a deal is reached, retroactively reversing the higher rates.

“This week is really a challenge if you’ve got boats on the ocean,” said Brian Keare, the field chief information officer at Incorta, who advises companies like Broadcom, Starbucks and Apple on scenario planning amid the uncertainty they face under the Trump administration. “If I’ve got 30 days’ notice, I can make a smarter decision. If I’ve got 72 hours, my hands are more tied.”

China, which has already placed tariffs on nearly all of America’s exports, including agriculture products, has threatened to respond with additional “countermeasures” if the 25 percent rate kicks in.

Lyle Benjamin, the president of the Montana Grain Growers Association, said that China had essentially stopped buying American wheat since last year. He was hopeful that a trade truce would change that, but now he expected prices to keep falling.

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