US sets new March 2 date for China tariff increases amid talks
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. first lady Melania visit the Forbidden City with China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing, China, November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office on Friday officially changed the scheduled date of a tariff rate increase on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 12:01 a.m. EST (0501 GMT) on March 2, 2019 as the United States and China pursue talks on trade and intellectual property.

The change was made in a Federal Register filing from a previously scheduled effective date of Jan. 1, 2019 for the increase to 25 percent from 10 percent.

The notice does not affect the 25 percent tariff rate already in place on $50 billion worth of Chinese technology items, including semiconductors, printed circuit boards and other electronic components, machinery and vehicles.

The filing was added to documents associated with USTR’s “Section 301” investigation into China’s intellectual property practices, which has been the basis of U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods that led to tit-for-tat retaliation from Beijing.

It attributed the change to new U.S.-Chinese engagement “with the goal of obtaining the elimination of the acts, policies, and practices covered in the investigation” following a Dec. 1 meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires.

The USTR statement did not specify any expected outcomes of the negotiation. It made reference to goals set forth in a statement issued by the White House to negotiate over a 90-day period structural changes by China on forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and theft, services and agriculture.

USTR’s notice made no mention of China’s steps this week to resume suspended purchases of U.S. soybeans or suspend a punitive 25 percent tariff on American-made vehicles and auto parts.

The official delay of the tariff rate increase was of little comfort to the U.S. tech sector.

The Consumer Technology Association said on Friday that U.S. tariffs on technology-related imports from China were now costing $1 billion per month, with duties on fifth-generation mobile technology goods reaching $122 million in October, compared with $65,000 a year earlier.