BEIJING – China announced on Thursday that it has reached an agreement with the United States to phase out bilateral tariffs imposed during the trade dispute that began in March 2018.
Commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng told a press conference that the two countries only needed to scrap the tariffs in order to complete the first phase of an bilateral agreement aimed at resolving the conflict.
The cancellation of tariffs will be a condition for further progress towards a final deal, Gao said.
The spokesperson said that Chinese and American negotiating teams have reached a consensus following “extensive, constructive and serious” talks in recent weeks.
“The two parties have agreed to eliminate tariffs as they continue making progress. If China and the United States reach a ‘phase one’ agreement, the two parties should eliminate tariffs simultaneously and in the same proportion,” he added.
The negotiating teams hope to resolve the conflict “based on equality and mutual respect,” Gao said.
On October 26, the Chinese government confirmed the progress of negotiations towards a partial trade agreement and said that the technical consultations on part of the text had already been completed.
US President Donald Trump described the pact as “phase one” of a process could have as many as three stages and suspended his plans to raise tariffs on imports from the Asian giant.
Meanwhile, China promised to increase its purchases of US agricultural products to between $40 billion and $50 billion.
Neither government has so far released details of the agreement but Trump stated that it includes some measures relating to the devaluation of the Chinese currency and intellectual property issues although it does not address the forced transfer of technology in China, an issue that will be discussed in phase two.
Nor does the agreement resolve the issue of export bans affecting Chinese telecom giant Huawei, which is being negotiated in a parallel process.