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China to Remove Tariffs on Some U.S. Products, Exempting Soybeans
USAgNet - 09/12/2019

President Trump said on Twitter on Wednesday night that he would delay by two weeks the next increase in tariffs on Chinese goods as a “gesture of good will” to advance trade talks that have made little progress for months.

According to the Washington Post, the president acted several hours after a conciliatory Chinese move to grant 16 U.S. products a one-year exemption from Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs. In a pair of tweets, Trump said he delayed his scheduled Oct. 1 increase at the request of China’s chief trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, to avoid imposing the tariffs as the People’s Republic of China celebrated its 70th anniversary.

Oct. 1 is a politically sensitive date on the Chinese calendar in any year, but President Xi Jinping has been preparing for an elaborate celebration this year to showcase the country’s emergence as a global power. Liu is expected to lead a Chinese delegation to Washington for the resumption of the stalled trade talks some time next month.

“This is a response to the Chinese goodwill gesture,” said Michael Pillsbury of the Hudson Institute, who has advised the administration on China. “This is goodwill gesture for goodwill gesture.”

Still, U.S.-China relations remain fraught. On Sept. 1, the United States imposed a 15 percent tariff on an additional $112 billion of Chinese goods, the first step toward taxing almost all Chinese imports by mid-December. And for now, the next increase has only been delayed not canceled. On Oct. 15, the United States now plans to raise to 30 percent from 25 percent its import levy on $250 billion worth of Chinese products.

Business groups remain wary of the trade war’s dangers. “It’s a nice gesture to see the delay in tariffs given significance of October 1st to China but we remain focus on the upcoming high level talks in early October and desire for signs that the talks will be productive,” Myron Brilliant, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who was visiting Beijing, said via email.

Some experts were harshly critical of the administration for originally planning the tariff increase for a date of such symbolic importance to the Chinese, the Post reported.

Mid-level U.S. and Chinese officials have begun discussing the next round of ministerial talks between Liu and Robert E. Lighthizer, the chief U.S. trade representative, which are scheduled for October. No date has yet been agreed and the two sides remain divided on numerous key issues.

The president has been seeking a comprehensive trade deal involving huge new Chinese purchases of American industrial and agricultural goods as well as structural changes in China’s state-directed economic model.

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