Countdown to 25% China Tariffs: Here Comes the Tariff Hike

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

The Chinese trade delegation arrived at the 0ffices of the U.S. Trade Representative at 5 P.M. to begin trade talks just hours before U.S. tariffs on imports from China are set to rise to 25 percent.

Update 12:02 A.M.: The clock has ticked past midnight so the higher tariffs are now official. That concludes our liveblog of Tariff Night. The latest post on the higher tariffs, and a review of how we got here, is up now here.

Update 11:56 P.M.: The fears of U.S. economic patriots that President Donald Trump would cave to Chinese and financial market pressure and cancel the tariff hikes appear to have been unfounded. Likewise the hopes of the trade surrender lobby and Wall Street. Those who believed Trump would stand by his convictions and hike the tariff have been vindicated.

Update 11:46 P.M.:  No further updates from the White House on whether or not Trump spoke to Xi. In any case, the tariffs are still set to be applied in less than 15 minutes.

Bloomberg has a good story on the domestic pressure China’s trade negotiators are facing the Chinese nationalists.

Update 11:16 P.M.: Stocks in Asia are rising on hopes that the tariff hike may be only a brief bump in the road to a trade pact between the U.S. and China. A few traders still hold out hope that a deal could be reached to forestall higher tariffs altogether but that seems extremely unlikely.

Stock indexes in Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and mainland China were all in positive territory Friday morning.

Update 11:09 P.M.:  Talks are set to resume tomorrow. But tariffs are still set to rise tonight.

Update 10:46 P.M.: Word from the White House is that tariffs are still going up at midnight.

Update 10:25 P.M.:  CNBC’s Eunice Yoon reports that they’ve agreed to continue discussions into the morning,

Update 10:15 P.M.:  This is getting weird. The dinner ended. Liu left. Then Mnuchin and Lighthizer “bumped into” the Japanese Ambassador. Who definitely could not have known where Mnuchin, Lighthizer, and Liu were having dinner even though we all knew this hours ago. Total coincidence, obviously.

Update 9:13 P.M.: More rumors of a Trump-Xi call.

Update 8:57 P.M.:  Working dinner it is. Here’s a photo that looks to be Liu and Lighthizer outside a restaurant in D.C.

Update 7:45 P.M.: There are reports that the meeting has already concluded, despite expectations that it would last late into the night. They may be heading to a working dinner. (Aside: back in my deal-making days, we would have ordered dinner into the conference room for a negotiation this important.)

According to one reporter at the scene, the Chinese delegation is headed to their hotel and Lighthizer and his guys to the White House for an Oval Office meeting.

Liu He, China’s vice premier and top trade negotiator, led the China team. He has, however, been stripped of the title “special envoy” of Xi Jinping, according to reports. That may indicate he has less negotiating authority.

The U.S. side of the talks are being led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

China has vowed to retaliate if the U.S. follows through with plans to hike the tariff at 12:01 A.M. Friday morning. But with only a few hours to go before the higher tariffs kick-in, and all the regulatory paperwork already filed, it would be a surprise if Liu and his team were able to convince the U.S. to reverse course.

Liu is scheduled to have dinner with Lighthizer and Mnuchin tonight.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the location of the talks Thursday evening. They are taking place at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. 

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