US lift 10% tariffs from Chinese furniture, modems

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Washington to extend Huawei’s partial reprieve on supply curbs

WASHINGTON/ SINGAPORE: The Trump administration is sparing some Chinese-made household furniture, baby items and Internet modems and routers from its next rounds of 10 percent tariffs.

The US Trade Representative’s office released a complete list of the items that were removed from $300 billion in tariffs scheduled to go into effect on Sept. 1 and Dec. 15, some of which had already been hit with 25 percent tariffs.

Trump on Tuesday delayed more than half of the proposed tariffs until December, saying it would help shield businesses and consumers from the US-China trade war fallout during the Christmas selling season.

The new list of 44 categories of spared imports, worth about $7.8 billion according to US Census Bureau data, also includes some chemical compounds used in the manufacture of plastics. Reuters previously reported that bibles and religious texts would be spared from the tariff list.

Modems and routers made in China were part of a $200 billion list of products hit with tariffs last September that have since been raised to 25 percent. Friday’s exclusion would avoid a further 10 percent hike as Trump imposes tariffs on Sept. 1 to products in the same broad customs category, including smart watches, smart speakers and Bluetooth headphones.

The bulk of the items removed from the tariff list were furniture products, including wooden- and metal-framed chairs and those made of plastics. Some of these were previously hit with tariffs as part of broader furniture categories. Baby-related furniture items also were spared, including toddler beds, bassinets, cradles, strollers and children’s seats.

The $114 billion retail furniture industry has been among the sector’s hardest hit with price increases due to Trump’s tariffs, which rose to 25 percent in May. The US Labor Department said on Tuesday that the price index for household furnishings rose 0.4 percent in July, marking its third consecutive monthly increase and contributing to broad-based growth in consumer prices during July.

Moreover, the US Commerce Department is expected to extend a reprieve given to Huawei Technologies that permits the Chinese firm to buy supplies from US companies so that it can service existing customers, sources familiar with the situation said. The “temporary general license” will be extended for Huawei for 90 days, the sources said.

The extension renews an agreement set to lapse on August 19, continuing the Chinese company’s ability to maintain existing telecommunications networks and provide software updates to Huawei handsets.

The situation surrounding the license, which has become a key bargaining chip for the United States in its trade negotiations with China, remains fluid and the decision to continue the Huawei reprieve could change ahead of the Monday deadline, the sources said. US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to discuss Huawei in a call this weekend, one of the sources said.

The world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker is still prohibited from buying American parts and components to manufacture new products without additional license approvals. The US government blacklisted Huawei alleging the Chinese company is involved in activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests.

The United States says Huawei’s smartphones and network equipment could be used by China to spy on Americans, allegations the company has repeatedly denied. The Commerce Department late on Friday declined to comment, referring to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s comments to CNBC television earlier this week in which he said the existing licenses were in effect until Monday. Asked if they would be extended, he said: “On Monday I’ll be happy to update you.

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