US and China reportedly close to deal to roll back tariffs

The US imposed punitive tariffs on $250 billion worth of imports from China, while Beijing has hit back with tariffs on $110 billion worth of US goods in their trade tiff. (Reuters)
Updated 04 March 2019
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US and China reportedly close to deal to roll back tariffs

  • In an eight-month trade war, the United States has imposed punitive tariffs on $250 billion worth of imports from China
  • Beijing has hit back with tariffs on $110 billion worth of US goods, including soybeans and other commodities

WASHINGTON: The US and China appear close to a deal that would roll back US tariffs on at least $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, as Beijing makes pledges on structural economic changes and eliminates retaliatory tariffs on US goods, a source briefed on negotiations said on Sunday.
US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping could seal a formal trade deal at a summit around March 27 given progress in talks between the two countries, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.
In an eight-month trade war, the United States has imposed punitive tariffs on $250 billion worth of imports from China, while Beijing has hit back with tariffs on $110 billion worth of US goods, including soybeans and other commodities. The actions have roiled financial markets, disrupted manufacturing supply chains and reduced US farm exports.
Trump administration officials have said they expect the two presidents to “close” a deal at a summit in coming weeks at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
The source briefed on the talks said that no dates for a summit had been determined, but that Beijing had reserved a 10-day window from around March 20 for a possible summit.
Many details still needed to be worked out, including the terms of an enforcement mechanism to ensure that Beijing follows through on pledges to make changes to policies to better protect US intellectual property, end forced technology transfers and curb industrial subsidies.
Another source familiar with the talks said that Washington and Beijing were close to agreement on non-enforcement issues, including China’s pledges to increase purchases of farm, energy and manufactured products, as well as six agreements on structural policy changes.
The Wall Street Journal said that in the pending agreement, China would lower tariffs on US-made goods including agricultural products, chemicals and cars in exchange for sanctions relief from Washington, citing people briefed on the matter on both sides.
The newspaper’s sources cautioned that hurdles remain, and each side faces possible resistance at home that the terms are too favorable to the other side.
As a part of the deal there would be a $18 billion purchase of natural-gas from Houston-based Cheniere Energy, the report said.
Cheniere declined to comment on the potential for a new LNG supply deal with China, a spokesman said. It last year signed a 20-year deal to supply state-run Chinese National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) with natural gas from its Louisiana export terminal through 2043.
The United States is working to hammer out a detailed trade agreement with China that will include specific structural commitments, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday.
Last week, Trump said the US could walk away from a trade deal with China if it were not good enough, even as his economic advisers touted “fantastic” progress toward an agreement to end the dispute with Beijing.
Trump a week ago delayed a tariff increase on $200 billion in Chinese goods that was previously scheduled to take place on Saturday, citing progress in the talks.


US won’t send officials to China’s Belt and Road Forum

Updated 25 min 37 sec ago
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US won’t send officials to China’s Belt and Road Forum

  • Leaders from 37 countries and officials from dozens more are expected to attend the Belt and Road Forum from Thursday to Saturday
  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told journalists at a briefing last week that US diplomats, state government representatives and members of the business community would be attending the forum

BEIJING: Washington will not send officials to a Beijing summit on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature global infrastructure project, the US embassy said Wednesday amid a raft of disputes between the two powers.
Leaders from 37 countries and officials from dozens more are expected to attend the Belt and Road Forum from Thursday to Saturday, but Washington has dismissed the initiative as a “vanity project.”
“The United States has no plans to send officials from Washington to the Belt and Road Forum,” a US embassy spokesperson told AFP in an email.
“We call upon all countries to ensure that their economic diplomacy initiatives adhere to internationally-accepted norms and standards, promote sustainable, inclusive development, and advance good governance and strong economic institutions,” the spokesperson said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told journalists at a briefing last week that American diplomats, state government representatives and members of the business community will be attending the forum.
At the first Belt and Road summit in 2017, the US was represented by White House adviser Matt Pottinger.
Since then, more countries have signed up to Belt and Road, most notably Italy, which became the first G7 nation to join the global scheme that aims to link Asia to Europe and Africa through massive investments in maritime, road and rail projects.