Mnuchin holds horses for now on tariffs

Business | Reuters and Stella Zhai 24 May 2019

The United States is at least a month from enacting its proposed tariffs on US$300 billion (HK$2,340 billion) in Chinese imports as it studies the impact on American consumers, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

"There won't be any decision probably for another 30 to 45 days," Mnuchin said in a hearing before the US House of Representatives Financial Services Committee on Wednesday.

That timeline, which is accelerated compared to previous rounds of tariffs, means the next levies could be ready around the time when Trump is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at a G20 summit in Japan June 28 to 29.

Mnuchin added that the impact of tariffs on American consumers was a key consideration in the US trade strategy.

Acrimony between the two countries has intensified since Washington put Huawei on a blacklist last week, and no high-level talks have been scheduled since then. Mnuchin said the Trump administration is open to holding new talks with China if the two sides can proceed on the basis of previous negotiations.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong supply chain manager Li & Fung (0494) expected its logistics business to see high growth this year, with the onshore wholesale business registering double-digit growth, but supply chain solutions might face pressure amid the escalating trade war.

Honorary chairman Victor Fung Kwok-king said that the long-term trade environment has been changing, but also bringing opportunities.

He said the company has a procurement network covering over 50 countries globally, helping them to offset the impact of the trade war.

Li & Fung has built a good relations with over 10,000 manufacturers over the world, and is prepared to help its clients transfer their production from the mainland, said chief executive Spencer Theodore Fung.

Group chairman William Fung Kwok-lun said he expects the logistics business to grow in the mainland.

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