Tuesday, 19 November, 2019

China wants tariffs cut to enable $50 bln imports from U.S

Customers weigh vegetable and fruits at a Walmart in Beijing China on September 23. — Reuters Customers weigh vegetable and fruits at a Walmart in Beijing China on September 23. — Reuters
Russell Knight | 15 October, 2019, 18:37

China's imports and exports fell more than expected in September, official data showed on Monday, as cooling demand at home and overseas hit trade in the world's second largest economy.

Trump launched the trade war with China previous year, adding new tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese imports.

Last Friday, the U.S. agreed to hold off on a planned 25%-30% tariff increase on Chinese imports that was due to come into effect on Tuesday.

"Based on domestic market demand and on their own initiatives, Chinese companies have purchased USA agricultural products following a market-oriented approach", spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a press briefing. While Trump hailed an increase in agricultural purchases as "the greatest and biggest deal ever made for our Great Patriot Farmers in the history of our Country", China's state-run media only said the two sides "agreed to make joint efforts toward eventually reaching an agreement".

"The external environment facing China's foreign trade development is still complicated and severe". On America's part, Trump has agreed to suspend the implementation of another round of tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods that had been scheduled to go into effect on October 15. Uncertainty has prompted some companies to postpone investments, adding to downward pressure on global growth and fueling financial market jitters.

September exports fell 3.2% from a year earlier, the biggest fall since February, customs data showed yesterday.

China's economic growth fell to its lowest level in at least 26 years in the quarter ending in June, falling to 6.2% from the previous year.

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"While import growth should start to recover soon, it will take longer before export growth bottoms out", said Martin Lynge Rasmussen of Capital Economics in a report.

Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo criticized President Donald Trump's administration for "overselling" a new trade agreement with China, arguing that "the Chinese got what they want" while the USA got very little in return.

The initial deal, which finally breaks an 18-month trade spat, included a huge rise in China's purchases of United States farm products, and also covers intellectual property, financial services and currencies. Increased exports to Britain, other European countries and developing markets such as Vietnam, helped offset some losses. China's global trade surplus grew 42.2% to $ 39.7 billion.

Last week, Donald Trump announced that China had already agreed to terms on a a first-step trade deal with the US. September had marked a major escalation in the trade row, with Washington imposing 15% tariffs on more than $125bn in Chinese imports from September 1, and Beijing hitting back with retaliatory levies. Senior officials will then meet in Santiago, Chile, on the sidelines of the Apec meeting, before the summit where Mr Trump and Mr Xi are expected to sign the pact.

Talks broke down in May over Beijing's insistence that Trump's punitive tariffs had to be lifted once a deal took effect.

Beijing and Washington have gotten closer to signing a partial trade agreement, says Tom McGregor, Beijing-based author and senior editor for China's national broadcaster CCTV.

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