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Trump to Delay Tariffs on China by Two Weeks -- 2nd Update

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09/11/2019 | 09:53pm EDT

By Catherine Lucey and William Mauldin in Washington

WASHINGTON -- President Trump says the U.S. will delay by two weeks a planned increase in tariffs on some Chinese imports, a move that could ease chilled relations between the two nations ahead of planned trade talks in Washington next month.

Mr. Trump said on Twitter Wednesday that the U.S. will delay a tariff increase that was to go into effect on roughly $250 billion in goods on Oct. 1. He termed the delay a goodwill gesture made at the request of Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, as Oct. 1 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

The planned tariff increases were to cover largely nonconsumer items -- materials businesses use to produce goods -- with the levy going from 25% to 30%. The tariff hikes were widely opposed by U.S. business groups as well as farmers, who have suffered heavy losses as China has cut off purchases of American soybeans, corn and other crops.

The announcement came as Chinese and American officials plan to hold trade talks in Washington in early October.

The U.S. on Sept. 1 imposed new tariffs on about $111 billion in products, including for the first time some consumer goods imported from China. Another round of tariffs set to take effect Dec. 15 would cover consumer goods extensively, including smartphones, toys and apparel.

When China announced it would retaliate against those tariffs, Mr. Trump said he would respond by raising tariff levels and added in a tweet that American companies are "hereby ordered" to look for an alternative to doing business in China. He touted emergency powers that would allow him to punish businesses abroad.

The threats against companies led to a market decline at the time as well a major campaign by the business community to influence Mr. Trump to slow any escalation of the trade war, according to a person familiar with the effort.

The White House has faced criticism for taxing imports through tariffs amid some signs of economic weakness. Since the business backlash following the tweet, the Trump administration has sought to de-escalate the trade war, the person said.

Earlier Wednesday, China's State Council released two lists of U.S. products that will be exempt from higher tariffs starting Sept. 17.

For the 12 types of imports on the first list, including shrimp, lubricants, alfalfa meal and other items, the Chinese cabinet's tariff commission said companies can apply for a refund on additional tariffs already imposed.

The four products on the second list, the commission said, would not be eligible for refunds. It said it would continue to review goods for exemption and announce them at a later date.

Higher tariffs on these goods were imposed last July as part of tit-for-tat punitive tariffs.

--Grace Zhu in Beijing contributed to this article.

Write to William Mauldin at william.mauldin@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications

Story corrected at 10:27 p.m. ET. One of the reporters' last name was misspelled as Lucy instead of Lucey.

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