China made no concessions to the United States after President Donald Trump postponed threatened tariffs on some Chinese imports until mid-December, senior US 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,” US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross told CNBC television in an interview, using a Latin phrase meaning a favour exchanged for a favour.
Trump on Tuesday backed off his September 1 deadline for imposing 10 percent tariffs on thousands of Chinese imports, including technology products, clothing and footwear, pushing the deadline to December 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.
Trump’s tariff delay comes amid growing concerns about a global economic slowdown.
Bond markets in the United Kingdom and US were both flashing recession warnings.
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.
Trump on Tuesday said he implemented the delay to shield Christmas sales from the tariffs.
Looking for concessions from China in exchange for the postponed 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,” he added. “And so … if we simply put the tariffs on September 1 that would be more pain on us, rather than pain on them. That’s just silly.”
Navarro declined to say what US 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 US-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.