[BEIJING] China will exempt some US soybeans, pork and other agricultural products from additional tariffs, state media reported Friday, in the latest move by Beijing to ease trade tensions with the United States.
The news came after President Donald Trump delayed the next round of tariff increases on Chinese goods until after trade talks that are scheduled for early October, and officials in Washington confirmed China had made its first major purchase of US soybeans in months.
China’s decision to pull back on some new tariffs was another sign the world’s two largest economies are trying to ease tensions in a trade war that has rocked global markets and cast a pall over the prospects for global growth.
State media provided few details Friday, but China Central Television, the nation’s official broadcaster, cited Mr Trump’s decision to delay the next round of tariff increases on Chinese products by two weeks.
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China’s move was welcomed Friday by the Trump administration, which said it would help ease tensions ahead of the next round of talks.
“The really good part about this is there is some relaxation in the air with China exempting some tariffs. We’ve returned the favour, and the negotiations are moving along nicely,” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said Friday.
Mr Trump’s advisers say they will continue to press China for a transformative deal, but many are also eager to calm tensions and avoid further tariff increases that might rock equity markets this year.
They have considered striking an arrangement that would walk back the latest tranche of Mr Trump’s tariffs on US$112 billion of Chinese goods — leaving tariffs on at least US$250 billion of products in place — in return for substantial purchases of soybeans, pork and other products, people familiar with the matter said.
The easing of agricultural tariffs could also help China with its own problems. Food inflation has been rising as Chinese authorities battle an epidemic of swine fever, which has forced China to cull more than 1 million pigs.
The US Department of Agriculture said Friday that private exporters were reporting 204,000 metric tons of new soybean sales to China — the first major purchases in months after Chinese state-supported industries stopped buying US soybeans and other agricultural products.