BEIJING – China said on Friday it was withdrawing tariffs on soybeans and pork imported from the United States amid talks to conclude the first phase of a deal to de-escalate an ongoing trade war between the two largest economies.
According to a statement by the Finance Ministry in Beijing, Chinese companies have imported an unspecified number of American goods, and the Tariff Commission of the State Council (Executive) has been carrying out a tariff exclusion for batches of soybeans, pork and other products from the US.
The ministry did not specify the amount of imported goods that would benefit from this measure, which comes in the midst of negotiations between Beijing and Washington to ratify the first phase of a pact to end a bitter trade dispute between them.
In July 2018, China had imposed tariffs of 25 percent on these products in response to a similar measure by Washington last year.
Although not much detail is known about the latest trade deal, it has been learned that the agreement includes a phased withdrawal of levies that the two parties had imposed on one another during the dispute.
The latest escalation in the trade war, which has resulted in successive tariff hikes from both countries for nearly two years, happened on Sept. 1 with a 10-15 percent increase in tariffs from Washington on Chinese imports worth $112 billion.
It remains to be seen whether on Dec. 15 the same increase of up to 15 percent will apply to all other US imports from China, the total value of which would reach $300 billion.
Impact of the trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies has not been confined to the bilateral sphere and have had global ramifications.
The International Monetary Fund, in its latest global growth forecasts published in July, downgraded its projections to 3.2 percent for the current year, 0.1 percent less than in April, owing to global uncertainty caused by the trade dispute.
Moreover, relations between the two global powers have sharply deteriorated ever since the US started the trade war over, among other issues, trade imbalance, the theft of intellectual property and the forced transfer of technology.
China’s government on Friday confirmed the imposition of restrictions on US diplomats stationed in the Asian country, in a retaliatory measure against Washington’s decision to impose restrictions on Chinese diplomats in the US.
“In response to US State Department’s restrictions on Chinese diplomats in the US starting from October this year China has notified the US Embassy in China that we will immediately take countermeasures in response to its deed,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying.
Hua added that these measures were “reciprocal” and came into effect on Dec. 4.