By Susan Heavey and David Lawder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China made no concessions to the United States after President Donald Trump postponed threatened tariffs on some Chinese imports until mid-December, senior U.S. officials said on Wednesday, adding that talks aimed at resolving the trade fight would continue and markets should be patient.
“This was not a quid pro quo,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC television in an interview, using a Latin phrase meaning a favor exchanged for a favor.
Trump on Tuesday backed off his Sept. 1 deadline for imposing 10% tariffs on thousands of Chinese imports, including technology products, clothing and footwear, pushing it to Dec. 15 for certain items. U.S. 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.
Trump’s tariff delay comes amid growing concerns about a global economic slowdown. U.S. stocks fell sharply on Wednesday as bond markets issued a possible recession signal with the U.S. Treasury yield curve inverting for the first time since 2007. [.N][US/]
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 U.S. 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.
Trump on Tuesday said he delayed the tariffs to shield Christmas sales from the tariffs.
Looking for concessions from China in exchange for the delayed tariffs is the “totally wrong way to look at it,” Navarro said.
“The whole premise of what we’re trying to do is pain on them, not pain on us,” Navarro said. “And so … if we simply put the tariffs on Sept. 1 that would be more pain on us, rather than pain on them. That’s just silly.”
Navarro declined to say what U.S. negotiators would seek to achieve in the talks with Chinese officials before the tariffs take effect. Another phone call is scheduled between the two sides later this month.
“These negotiations will happen behind closed doors,” Navarro said. “People just need to be patient.”
Ross said on CNBC that it was too early to assess where U.S.-China trade talks stand, adding that a date has not been set for another round of face-to-face discussions.
“Until something is really formally announced and mutually agreed, it’s a little premature to say where anybody is,” Ross said.
China’s economy stumbled more sharply than expected in July, with industrial output growth cooling to a more than 17-year low, according to data released on Wednesday, as the intensifying U.S. trade dispute took a heavier toll on businesses and consumers.
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