The Trump administration today narrowed the list of Chinese products it plans to impose new tariffs on as of Sept. 1, delaying levies on cellphones, laptop computers, toys and other consumer goods until after stores stock up for the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons.
Stocks soared on the news.
The move, which pushed a new 10 percent tariff on some goods until Dec. 15 and spared others entirely, came as President Trump faces mounting pressure from businesses and consumer groups over the harm they say the continuing trade war between the United States and China is doing.
Trump’s earlier tariffs on Chinese imports were carefully crafted to hit businesses in ways that everyday Americans would mostly not notice.
But his announcement this month of the 10 percent tariff on $300 billion of Chinese goods meant consumers would soon feel the trade war’s sting more directly.
On Tuesday, Trump acknowledged as much.
“We’re doing this for the Christmas season,” he told reporters around noon. “Just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. customers.”
Trump has been pressing Beijing since last year to make a trade deal that would, among other things, strengthen protections for American intellectual property, open Chinese markets to American business and result in China buying large quantities of American energy and agricultural goods.
But negotiators for the United States and China have made little progress since May, when progress stalled out over several issues.
The stumbling blocks include whether Trump would roll back the 25 percent tariffs the administration has already imposed on roughly $250 billion of Chinese goods and whether Beijing would enshrine in law the reforms it has pledged to make.
Trump’s comments about the tariffs’ impact on consumers followed the United States trade representative’s office announcement that while the new tariffs would take effect as Trump had threatened, some notable items would not immediately be subject to them.
Consumer electronics, video game consoles, some toys, computer monitors and some footwear and clothing items were among the items the trade representative’s office said would not be hit with tariffs until retailers had time to stockpile what they needed for their busiest time of year.
The administration also said some products were being removed from the tariff list altogether “based on health, safety, national security and other factors.”
A spokesman for the trade representative’s office said the products being excluded from the tariffs included car seats, shipping containers, cranes, certain fish and Bibles and other religious literature.
The S&P 500 climbed nearly 2 percent after the announcement, lifted partly by stocks of retailers and computer chip producers that have been sensitive to indications that trade tensions were getting either better or worse.
Best Buy, which gets a many of the products it sells from China, was among the best-performing stocks in the S&P 500, up more than 8 percent in morning trading.
The Nasdaq composite index rose more than 2 percent.