China and US agree to halt tariff hikes as talks progress

China and US agree to halt tariff hikes as talks progress

Washington and Beijing have agreed to cancel tariff hikes as their trade negotiations progress, a Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman has said.

Gao Feng said envoys had “agreed to a phased cancellation of tariff increases depending on the progress of negotiations”.

He told reporters that if both sides reach a first phase agreement, then based on that deal they will cancel already imposed tariffs proportionately.

Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed last month to resume trade talks aimed at resolving a more than year-long dispute over technology and industrial policy. As part of that truce, they halted further tariff hikes.

Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

But both sides have imposed billions of dollars of punitive tariffs on each other’s exports and reports have said Beijing is seeking to have those rolled back as part of any agreement.

US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said earlier this week that any first phase agreement would be general and cover trade in specific areas such as soybeans and liquefied natural gas.

More complicated issues would be tackled in later rounds of negotiations, he said.

Mr Ross did not directly say if rolling back tariffs was a possibility in the first phase talks.

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