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No trade concessions from China as US postpones tariffs

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WASHINGTON: China made no trade concessions after US President Donald Trump postponed 10 per cent tariffs on more than US$150 billion (S$208 billion) worth of Chinese imports, senior US officials said, adding that talks aimed at resolving the trade fight would continue.

"This was not a quid pro quo," US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC in a television interview, using a Latin phrase meaning a favour exchanged for a favour.

Mr Trump on Tuesday backed off his Sept 1 deadline for the tariffs on thousands of Chinese imports, including technology products, clothing and footwear, pushing it to Dec 15 for certain items.

US and Chinese officials also announced renewed trade discussions.

Both developments drew cautious relief from retailers and technology groups as the world's two largest economies enter the second year of their trade dispute.

Mr Trump's tariff delay coincided with recession fears in US markets, sending stocks to their biggest one-day loss since last October.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, in a separate interview on Fox Business Network, said the decision to delay the additional tariffs was made to limit the pain on US businesses, which already had contracts to buy Chinese goods for the holiday selling season and had no way to avoid passing costs on to consumers.

Mr Trump also said the delay was to shield Christmas sales from the tariffs.

Mr Chad Bown, a trade economist and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said in a blog post that there was no good news in the tariff announcements.

"The only minor consolation comes in their timing," Mr Bown wrote. "By putting off the next two rounds until the import surges have already arrived to stock this year's back-to-school and winter holiday shopping seasons, President Trump may be coming around, albeit belatedly, to the economic evidence on the costs of his trade war."


Looking for concessions from China in exchange for the delayed tariffs is the "totally wrong way to look at it", Mr Navarro said.

"The whole premise of what we're trying to do is pain on them, not pain on us. If we simply put the tariffs on Sept 1 that would be more pain on us, rather than pain on them."

The editor of China's state run Global Times newspaper said China would require removal of all additional US tariffs in order to reach a deal, not simply delaying them.

In Beijing, the finance ministry said China has to take necessary countermeasures to the latest US tariffs.

The ministry also said yesterday that the US tariffs violate a consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries. - REUTERS