SHANGHAI – In another attempt to reduce trade-related tensions with the United States, China announced on Friday it would exempt some agricultural and livestock products such as soy and pork from additional tariffs imposed on US products.
The Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council announced the measure through a statement in which it said that China “supports domestic companies in purchasing a certain amount of US farm produce in line with the rules of the market and the World Trade Organization.”
The decision comes after Wednesday when China announced that it would postpone the application of tariffs on 16 US products until Sept. 2020, instead of the previously announced deadline of Sept. 17.
The items covered by the postponement of the 25 percent tariffs included fishmeal, some lubricants and raw materials used in cancer drugs, but did not cover prominent imports such as pork, soy or automobiles.
However, on Friday Beijing included two of these products on the list of exemptions, another step in a recent series of goodwill gestures as the two countries look set to renew attempts to reach a trade agreement.
The commission said Friday that the decision came “after the United States decided to make adjustments to the additional tariffs to be imposed on Chinese goods on Oct. 1” and added that “China has a huge market, and the prospects for importing high-quality US farm produce are broad.”
“China hopes the United States will be true to its word, make progress on its commitments and create favorable conditions for bilateral agricultural cooperation,” the statement said.
The agricultural sector has been one of the main points of contention between the two sides as one of the key demands of Washington has been that China should buy more of its farm products in order to balance the US trade deficit with Beijing.
Hours after Beijing’s Wednesday announcement, US President Donald Trump said he would delay the imposition of 25-30 percent tariffs on Chinese products worth 250 billion dollars from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15 due to the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1 and on the request of Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.
On Thursday, Liu announced that working groups from China and the US will meet next week to resume trade talks.
Liu made the remarks at a meeting with chairman of the US-China Business Council, Evan Greenberg, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported.
Liu said that the working groups would have “earnest discussions” on their trade balance, market access, protection of investors and other matters of mutual interest and added that the world was looking forward to seeing progress in trade talks between both nations.
Greenberg said that the US’ business sector did not wish to see a hike in tariffs, and hoped that the two countries would resolve their differences through discussions while bringing bilateral trade back to normal.
At next week’s meeting, the delegations will begin preparing for the meeting convened in Washington in early October to resolve the trade war, which started in early 2018.