The Trump administration made the decision to delay tariffs on some Chinese imports from September until mid-December because proceeding next month would have caused “more pain on us, rather than pain on [China],” White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said on Aug. 14.
The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office on Aug. 13 published a notice delaying the imposition of a 10 percent import tariff on a range of consumer goods, including laptops, cell phones, and video game consoles.
Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump, unsatisfied with the progress of trade talks, announced a 10 percent tariff on $300 billion of Chinese imports to begin on Sept. 1, saying the regime did not deliver on its pledges to buy U.S. agricultural products and stem the flow of fentanyl to the United States.
Navarro, in an interview with Fox Business on Aug. 14, said the three month delay on certain Chinese goods came after hearing feedback from American businesses and stakeholders impacted by the move.
Businesses told the administration that they had already bought Chinese goods for the Christmas holiday season, and there was no way to change the contracts to take into account the tariffs, Navarro said.
“On that basis alone, there was no reason to inflict harm on ourselves,” he said.
Navarro said the “overwhelming majority” of these businesses said they would continue to shift their sourcing, production and supply chain out of China.
He said Trump’s “strong and flexible” decision to delay the tariff imposition would “continue to pressure on China.”
“Most of the pressure now is the fact that China is losing their supply chain,” Navarro added.
The administration is still moving ahead with imposing the 10 percent tariffs on much of the $300 billion list of Chinese goods, including smartwatches, to start on Sept. 1.
Earlier on Aug. 14, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC that the postponement decision did not involve any concessions from Beijing.
“This was not a quid pro quo,” Ross said.
Meanwhile the two sides are continuing trade negotiations, with a phone call due within the next two weeks, Navarro said. Ross told CNBC that a date has not been set for another round of in-person talks.
“These negotiations will happen behind closed doors … And people just need to be patient,” Navarro said.
Reiterating previous remarks, the trade advisor said the negotiations were about addressing the Chinese regime’s “seven acts of economic aggression.”
According to Navarro, they are: “cyber intrusions into our business networks, forced technology transfer in exchange for market access, intellectual property theft, dumping into our markets, state-owned enterprises which are heavily subsidized, currency manipulation, and killing Americans with fentanyl.”
He added the the United States cannot “meet the Chinese halfway” on these structural issues.
“Because if you meet them halfway, then they’ll only be stealing half as much as they’re stealing, and killing half as many Americans.”