China welcomes Trump’s “goodwill” act to delay tariffs ahead of trade talks

China welcomes Trump's "goodwill" act to delay tariffs ahead of trade talks

BEIJING: China on Thursday welcomed US President Donald Trump’s “goodwill” gesture to postpone a planned tariff hike on Chinese products, as the two countries warmed up to each other ahead of the next month’s talks to end the bruising trade war.

President Trump said on Wednesday that he had delayed his proposed increased tariffs on USD 250 billion worth of Chinese goods from October 1 to October 15.

Earlier, China on Wednesday unveiled the first set of US goods to be excluded from the first round of additional tariffs on US products, which Trump described as a goodwill gesture.

The exemption, which covers two lists with 16 categories of goods, will be valid from September 17, 2019 to September 16, 2020, the China’s Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council said in a statement.

In his tweet Trump said, “at the request of Vice Premier of China, Liu He, and due to the fact that the People’s Republic of China will be celebrating their 70th Anniversary on October 1st, we have agreed, as a gesture of goodwill, to move the increased tariffs on 250 billion dollars worth of goods (25% to 30%), from October 1st to October 15th”.

Welcoming Trump’s announcement, Gao Feng, China’s Ministry of Commerce spokesman told media in Beijing on Thursday that Chinese buyers have already started to make enquiries about the prices of US farm products, including soybeans and pork, although he did not elaborate on the timing or size of any intended purchases.

Top Chinese officials are scheduled to arrive in the US for talks early October.

Since last year, the two countries are working on a comprehensive trade deal, which not only addresses the issue of balance of trade, but also ends theft of intellectual property and coercion of American companies in China.

Gao did not confirm the specific date of the talks, although they are widely expected to take place before October 15, leaving room for a further postponement or even cancelling of some of the tariffs, Hong-Kong based South China Morning Post reported.

Before the meeting in Washington, Gao said there will be a deputy level meeting to lay the ground work for the talks between Liu and his American counterparts led by US trade representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The goodwill gestures from both sides have raised expectations of October talks to reach a deal to end the year-long bruising trade war between the top two economies of the world.

Both sides have so far held 12 rounds of talks, but failed to work out a deal as China continued to resist Trump’s demand for intrusive verification mechanism to supervise Beijing’s promise to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) technology transfer and more access to American goods to Chinese markets.

Trump kicked off the trade war in June last year, demanding China to reduce massive trade deficit which last year climbed to over USD 539 billion.

Both the countries slapped additional tariffs on each other’s export goods which also resulted in global trade and economic slowdown.

China itself is grappling with the slowdown of its economy which touched a 27-year low of 6.2 per cent in the second quarter of this year. PTI

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