Tuesday, 17 September, 2019

Donald Trump pushes back increase in Chinese import tariffs

Shipping containers to be imported to China Enlarge Image AFP Getty Images
Patty Aguilar | 13 September, 2019, 13:06

The statement followed President Donald Trump's decision Wednesday to postpone a planned October 1 tariff hike on Chinese imports.

Earlier in the day, Trump said he would consider striking an interim agreement to resolve the more than year-long trade war with Beijing until a more-permanent deal can be reached.

Taken together, the measures pale in comparison to the oncoming hit from USA tariff increases still in the pipeline for October and December, the fruit of a rapid escalation in tensions between the two sides last month.

The soybean purchases, which at more than 600,000 tonnes were the largest by Chinese private importers in more than a year, are slated for shipment from U.S. Pacific Northwest export terminals from October to December, two traders with knowledge of the deals said.

"These actions seem created to get the China trade talks back on track", said Amanda DeBusk, a partner at the law firm Dechert LLP.

The inquiries into the cost of soybeans, pork and other farm products announced Thursday come as officials from the two countries are expected to return to the negotiating table in October after months of stalemate. "But I would let the Chinese know that we need to hammer out a deal".

At each G20 Summit, Trump has agreed to stop imposing additional tariffs on China, only to renege on such promises and announce additional tariffs weeks later.

Earlier, China released a list of 16 USA imports that will be exempted from tariffs including anti-cancer drugs and animal feed. USA equities and Asian stock futures advanced after news of the discussions. Neither side has specified a date for the meetings.

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The gestures appear meant to reduce tensions ahead of the October negotiations over trade and technology.

Since previous year, the two countries have traded tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade.

There are still many uncertainties in the coming trade talks.

ING's Pang noted the United States had also exempted imports of 110 Chinese products from tariffs in July, including high-value items such as medical equipment and parts.

Trump has previously accused Beijing of backsliding on promises to increase purchases of U.S. farm goods.

Earlier on Thursday Beijing said Chinese companies were inquiring about prices of agricultural goods. "He's prepared to raise tariffs if we need to raise tariffs".

For two years, the Trump administration has sought to pressure China to make sweeping changes to its policies on intellectual property protection, forced transfers of technology to Chinese firms, industrial subsidies and market access.

The South China Morning Post reported, citing an unidentified source, that China was expected to buy more agricultural products in hopes of a better trade deal with the United States.

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