The Kansas City Star - - Front Page - BY JOE MC­DON­ALD

Bei­jing and Wash­ing­ton have agreed to re­duce some puni­tive tar­iffs.

Bei­jing and Wash­ing­ton have agreed to re­duce some puni­tive tar­iffs on each other’s goods as talks on end­ing their trade war progress, a Chi­nese spokesman said Thurs­day, re­mov­ing a pos­si­ble stum­bling block to a set­tle­ment.

The agree­ment came dur­ing talks aimed at work­ing out de­tails of a “Phase 1” deal an­nounced Oct. 12. Fi­nan­cial mar­kets were rat­tled by re­ports China was push­ing for tar­iffs to be lifted, which raised the pos­si­bil­ity of a break­down in talks.

Ne­go­tia­tors agreed to a “phased can­cel­la­tion” of tar­iff hikes if talks progress, said a Com­merce Min­istry spokesman, Gao Feng.

“If the two sides achieve a ‘Phase 1’ agree­ment, then based on the con­tent of that agree­ment, tar­iffs al­ready in­creased should be can­celed at the same time and by the same rate,” Gao said at a news brief­ing.

As for the size of re­duc­tions, Gao said that would de­pend on the agree­ment.

Govern­ments of the two big­gest global economies have raised tar­iffs on bil­lions of dol­lars of each other’s goods in the fight over China’s trade sur­plus and tech­nol­ogy am­bi­tions.

That weighs on trade world­wide and threat­ens to de­press global eco­nomic growth that al­ready is show­ing signs of slow­ing.

The Oct. 12 agree­ment was mod­est and de­tails have yet to be put on pa­per, but it was wel­comed as a sign of progress to­ward end­ing the trade war.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump agreed to post­pone a planned tar­iff hike while lower-level of­fi­cials ham­mered out de­tails.

Trump said China agreed to buy up to $50 bil­lion of Amer­i­can farm goods. Bei­jing has yet to con­firm the scale of its com­mit­ment.

News re­ports said Bei­jing wants 15% tar­iffs im­posed in Septem­ber on $125 bil­lion of Chi­nese im­ports re­moved be­fore it will make a for­mal com­mit­ment.

There had been no in­di­ca­tion whether Trump might agree, which raised the pos­si­bil­ity of an­other break­down in ne­go­ti­a­tions.

China’s im­ports of Amer­i­can soy­beans and other goods tum­bled 26.4% in the first nine months of this year fol­low­ing tar­iff hikes and or­ders to im­porters to find other sup­pli­ers.

The Oct. 12 agree­ment helped to ease fi­nan­cial mar­ket jit­ters, but the two sides have yet to re­port progress on ma­jor dis­agree­ments over tech­nol­ogy and other ir­ri­tants fol­low­ing 13 rounds of talks.

Trump and Xi were due to meet at this month’s gath­er­ing of Asia-Pa­cific lead­ers in Chile, but that event was can­celed due to protests there.

That damp­ened hopes a face-to-face meet­ing might pro­duce progress. But U.S. of­fi­cials say the two govern­ments are look­ing for a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion.

U.S. Com­merce Sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross said this week that any “Phase 1” agree­ment would be gen­eral and would cover trade in spe­cific ar­eas such as soy­beans and liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas.

More com­pli­cated is­sues would be tack­led in later ne­go­ti­a­tions, Ross said. He gave no in­di­ca­tion whether rolling back tar­iffs was a pos­si­bil­ity at this stage.


Vis­i­tors chat Wed­nes­day near the booth of an Amer­i­can com­pany pro­mot­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal sen­sors in Shang­hai.

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