US, China agree to can­cel tar­iff hikes

The Korea Times - - WORLD BUSINESS -

BEI­JING (Reuters) — China and the United States have agreed to can­cel in phases the tar­iffs im­posed dur­ing their months-long trade war, the Chi­nese com­merce min­istry said on Thurs­day, with­out spec­i­fy­ing a timetable.

An in­terim U.S.-China trade deal is widely ex­pected to in­clude a U.S. pledge to scrap tar­iffs sched­uled for Dec. 15 on about $156 bil­lion worth of Chi­nese im­ports, in­clud­ing cell phones, lap­top com­put­ers and toys.

Tar­iff can­cel­la­tion was an im­por­tant con­di­tion for any agree­ment, min­istry spokesman Gao Feng said, adding that both must si­mul­ta­ne­ously can­cel some tar­iffs on each other’s goods to reach a “phase one” trade deal. “The trade war started with tar­iffs, and should end with the can­cel­la­tion of tar­iffs,” Gao told a reg­u­lar news brief­ing.

The pro­por­tion of tar­iffs can­celled for both sides to reach a “phase one” deal must be the same, but the num­ber to be can­celled can be ne­go­ti­ated, he added, with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

“In the past two weeks, the lead ne­go­tia­tors from both sides have had se­ri­ous and con­struc­tive dis­cus­sions on re­solv­ing var­i­ous core con­cerns ap­pro­pri­ately,” Gao said. “Both sides have agreed to can­cel ad­di­tional tar­iffs in dif­fer­ent phases, as both sides make progress in their ne­go­ti­a­tions.” He did not give a time­line.

In what could be an­other ges­ture to boost op­ti­mism, China’s state news agency Xin­hua re­ported late on Thurs­day that the Chi­nese cus­toms and the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture are con­sid­er­ing re­mov­ing re­stric­tions on U.S. poul­try im­ports.

China has banned all U.S. poul­try and eggs since Jan­uary 2015 due to an avian in­fluenza out­break.

Bei­jing’s sig­nal that a ‘phase 1’ trade deal with the United States was close to be­ing sealed helped Europe’s share mar­kets hit a more than 4-year peak on Thurs­day and bond yields shuf­fled higher.

Trump-Xi meet­ing

A source pre­vi­ously told Reuters that Chi­nese ne­go­tia­tors wanted the United States to drop 15 per­cent tar­iffs on about $125 bil­lion worth of Chi­nese goods that took ef­fect on Sept. 1.

They also sought re­lief from ear­lier 25 per­cent tar­iffs on about $250 bil­lion of im­ports, rang­ing from ma­chin­ery and semi­con­duc­tors to fur­ni­ture.

A per­son fa­mil­iar with China’s ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion said it was press­ing Wash­ing­ton to “re­move all tar­iffs as soon as pos­si­ble”.

A deal may be signed this month by U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping at a yetto-be de­ter­mined lo­ca­tion.

Dozens of venues have been sug­gested for a meet­ing, which had orig­i­nally been set to take place on the side­lines of a now-can­celled mid-Novem­ber sum­mit of Asia-Pa­cific lead­ers in Chile, a se­nior Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial told Reuters on Wednes­day.

One pos­si­ble lo­ca­tion was Lon­don, where the lead­ers could meet af­ter a NATO sum­mit that Trump is due to at­tend from Dec. 3-4, the of­fi­cial said. Gao de­clined to say when and where such a meet­ing could be.

Since Trump took of­fice in 2017, his ad­min­is­tra­tion has been press­ing China to curb mas­sive sub­si­dies to state-owned firms and end the forced trans­fer of Amer­i­can tech­nol­ogy to Chi­nese firms as a price of do­ing busi­ness in China.

Pres­i­dents Trump and Xi agreed last month to re­sume trade talks aimed at re­solv­ing a more than year­long dis­pute over tech­nol­ogy and in­dus­trial pol­icy.

As part of that truce, they halted fur­ther tar­iff hikes. But both sides have im­posed bil­lions of dol­lars’ worth of puni­tive tar­iffs on each other’s ex­ports and re­ports have said China wants to have those rolled back as part of any agree­ment.

U.S. Com­merce Sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross said ear­lier any phase 1 agree­ment would be gen­eral.


U.S. and Chi­nese flags are dis­played out­side a ho­tel in Bei­jing in this May 14 photo.

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