Talks between top administration officials and Chinese negotiators are planned for Friday after the latest round of discussions failed to halt President Trump's threat to raise to 25% the tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods at midnight -- a move that has rocked the stock market and could begin to hit consumers in the wallet.
The higher tariffs were scheduled to go into effect at midnight Eastern Friday, after last-minute trade talks between the U.S. and China on Thursday evening produce no agreement. Liu He, China's vice premier and top trade negotiator, met with the administration's trade team Thursday in Washington, just hours before the tariff increase was set to go into effect.
President Trump also said earlier in the week that plans are underway to slap 25% tariffs on an additional $325 billion worth of Chinese imports. According to report from the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the additional tariffs on the rest of Chinese goods would have a big impact on final consumer products, including 100% of toys and sports equipment and more than 90% of footwear and textiles and clothing. It would have a smaller impact on electronics, machinery, chemicals and fuels.
Trump over the weekend had set the Friday deadline to more than double the tariffs on industrial components and related products, just weeks after the White House indicated that trade negotiations were progressing.
Reuters, citing unnamed sources, reported that China had backtracked on many parts of a trade deal with the U.S. Last week, according to the report, China sent Washington heavy edits to a draft trade document, reversing its agreement to key U.S. requirements involving technology transfers, competition, currency and U.S. intellectual property. Reuters reported Thursday that Trump also said paperwork had been initiated to levy 25% tariffs on a further $325 billion worth of Chinese imports.
China dismissed claims that is had backtracked. A report Thursday in the South China Morning Post cited the Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng as saying China is committed to resolving the trade dispute with the U.S. but is also prepared to defend its interests in the face of any increase in U.S. trade tariffs.
Stocks fell this week amid growing tensions over the trade issue. Stocks ended down Thursday, but reversed some earlier losses late in the session. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 139 points, or 0.54%, to 25,828. At its low for the session, the blue-chip index was down as much as 449 points. The S&P 500 dropped 0.30% and the Nasdaq fell 0.41%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were down for a fourth straight day after setting a string of record closing highs last week. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks also fell, declining 0.3%.
Benchmarks in Asia were mostly higher in early Friday trade, with stocks in Shanghai up 1.5%, and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong up 0.89%. Japan's Nikkei 225 was 0.67% higher. Dow, Nasdaq and S&P futures edged lower overnight.
Thursday night, TheStreet's Jim Cramer said on his Mad Money show on CNBC that in Trump's eyes, China must be dealt with at all costs. Cramer said the president prepared the U.S. economy by passing tax breaks that helped bolster U.S. companies, then he began imposing tariffs to inflict maximum pain on China. Cramer told his audience that Trump doesn't care about companies that sell into China, and he wants those who manufacture there to bring their operations back home to the U.S. Cramer said that while Trump may have a surreal vision that China pays for the tariffs he imposes, the reality is that Americans pay them.