The United States has agreed to temporarily delay the escalation of certain additional tariffs on floriculture hard goods produced in China from 10 percent to 25 percent, an increase that was scheduled to take place Jan. 1, 2019. In return, China will open its market to U.S. agricultural and industrial products.
The delay comes after President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Buenos Aires at the Group of 20 Summit to discuss, among other things, the tariff situation. Many floriculture hard goods are included among the thousands of products from China already subject to the current 10 percent tariff, which was imposed in September. Those products include plastics, ceramics, containers, and other packaging materials commonly used in the floral industry.
The Society of American Florists sent a letter to the United States Trade Representative in early September advocating on the industry’s behalf.
A number of uncertainties still remain, said Shawn McBurney, SAF’s senior director of government relations.
“The temporary delay in additional tariff escalation depends on the outcome of U.S.-China trade negotiations over the course of a 90-day period beginning December 1, 2018,” he said. “The White House reports that if no agreement is reached once that period has passed, the additional tariffs will escalate to 25 percent as planned.”
The White House says it will look for structural changes in China with respect to forced technology transfer, intellectual property protection, non-tariff barriers, cyber intrusions and cyber theft, services and agriculture.
The U.S. and Chinese summaries of the Xi-Trump Summit also differed. The White House asserts that the Chinese have agreed to buy a very substantial amount of U.S. agricultural, energy, industrial, and other products and that China has agreed to start purchasing U.S. agricultural product immediately. The Chinese side carefully stated that it will work to open its market and expand imports in line with the needs of its domestic market and people, without mentioning the 90-day time period or the commitment to immediately begin purchasing agricultural products.
Although the U.S. has delayed the additional tariff escalation, those in the floral supply chain will continue to pay an additional duty of 10 percent on certain hard goods from China until further notice.
Find the statement from the White House Press Secretary regarding President Trump’s working dinner with China here.
Find the statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the Xi-Trump meeting here.
Drew Gruenburg is the chief operating officer of the Society of American Florists.