China said it would cancel additional tariffs on imports of soyabeans and pork that it intends to purchase from the US, in the latest of a series of goodwill gestures aimed at de-escalating a trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
China has encouraged companies to buy “a certain quantity” of pork and soyabeans from the US and they will be exempted from additional tariffs, state-run broadcaster CCTV reported, apparently referring to duties imposed since the start of the trade war.
It did not state the amounts that will be purchased. Soyabeans were the US' second-largest export to China ahead of the trade war, with $12bn sold to China in 2017. But exports plummeted last year as both sides raised tariffs on each others’ exports.
Beijing’s pledge to purchase unspecified amounts of both products from the US at the same tariff rates it applies to other WTO members came hours after US President Donald Trump said he would consider doing an “interim deal” with China.
People briefed on the matter said the idea being discussed within the Trump administration was to return to the status quo earlier this year, when tariffs were in place on $250bn of Chinese exports.
In return, China would agree to purchases of US agricultural goods and possibly make other commitments on thorny issues such as intellectual property, the people said.
“I see a lot of analysts are saying an interim deal, meaning we’ll do pieces of it, the easy ones first,” Mr Trump told reporters on Thursday. “But there’s no easy or hard. There’s a deal or not a deal . . . It’s something we would consider, I guess.”
People familiar with the internal debate in Washington said the discussions about de-escalation were far from finished, and Mr Trump could still decide to keep intensifying the trade war in the coming weeks.
Trade tensions between the two nations have intensified since a G20 summit between Mr Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in June, with the US currently on course to raise duties on almost all imports from China by December.
Analysts say that Beijing had been reluctant to yield to what it sees as unfair pressure by Washington to change its policies on issues such as state subsidies and industrial policy which it sees as essential for continued economic growth.
China’s pork imports from Europe and Brazil have surged in recent months as African swine fever has reduced the size of China’s pig herd, causing prices to double since July. But US farms have missed out as Beijing raised duties on US pork to 72 per cent.
CCTV indicated that Beijing’s latest pledge was a response to Mr Trump's statement this week that an increase in tariffs on $250bn worth of imports from China from 25 per cent to 30 per cent, would be pushed back for two weeks from October 1.
Mr Trump’s goodwill gesture followed Beijing’s decision earlier on Wednesday to exempt 16 types of US products from Chinese tariffs ahead of talks scheduled to take place later this month, ahead of a trip to Washington by top Chinese negotiators in October.
Chinese authorities “indicated that the Chinese market has a large capacity, and the prospects for importing high-quality agricultural products from the United States are broad”, CCTV reported.
“It is hoped that the US will be true to its words and its commitment to create favourable conditions for co-operation on agricultural issues between the two countries,” the report added.
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