US Puts New China Tariffs on Hold to Negotiate Trade Deficit, Says Treasury Secretary

The United States has suspended a plan to impose new tariffs on Chinese imports as it works to hammer out a deal to reduce the trade deficit with Beijing.

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the two countries made “very meaningful progress” during two days of trade talks in Washington, D.C. last week.

In April, President Donald Trump threatened to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese products, citing alleged violations of U.S. intellectual property laws.

“We’re putting the trade war on hold,” Mnuchin said. “Right now, we have agreed to put the tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework.”

The agreed-upon framework, as Mnuchin explained on the political talk show, would ramp up China’s purchases of American goods as well as ensure that American companies face fair competition in China. It would also implement “structural” changes to protect American technology — a centerpiece of Trump’s agenda.

Mnuchin’s comments come a day after both countries announced an initial agreement on trade, revealing in a joint statement that China has conceded to “significantly increase” its purchases of U.S. goods and services to reduce the trade imbalance. The statement had no mention of Chinese telecom company ZTE, which has been accused of making illegal shipments to Iran and North Korea.

“[President Trump] could always decide to put the tariffs back on if China doesn’t go through with their commitments,” Mnuchin added.

While Trump’s initial tariff plan didn’t include shoes, footwear leaders have been on edge during the last few months.

FDRA President and CEO Matt Priest said recently the shoe industry is a case study in why tariffs don’t work. Despite paying steep duties since the 1930s that tallied nearly $3 billion last year alone, the U.S. imports 99 percent of its footwear. Protectionist trade policies such as this have done little to keep shoe manufacturing stateside.

“Production shifted away in spite of the tariffs, which just shows you that not everything is destined to be produced here in vast quantities to serve our consumer base,” Priest said. “The rhetoric [coming from the president] is interesting because it’s both reactionary and nationalistic but not necessarily wedded with economic theory or lessons learned.”

Want more?

Tariff Testimony Shows Crack in Alignment of Industry Trade Groups on China

Stock Markets Tumble as Trump Makes Good on China Tariff Threat

What President Donald Trump’s Steel, Aluminum Tariffs Would Mean for Retailers

Access exclusive content