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China, US agree to tariff rollback in deal phase

(China Daily)    10:03, November 09, 2019

Commerce Ministry spokesman says undoing added levies key to advancing an agreement

China and the United States have agreed to roll back tariffs on each others' goods as part of the first phase of a trade deal, officials from both sides said on Thursday, a sign the two sides are making progress toward a comprehensive trade deal to end their lengthy trade war.

"Over the past two weeks, the two negotiating teams had serious and constructive discussions and agreed to remove the additional duties imposed on each other's products in different phases after they make progress in reaching a deal,'' Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said at his weekly news conference in Beijing.

He did not specify what tariffs might be dropped or when, saying, "As for how much of the tariffs should be removed, the two countries can negotiate based on the content of the phase-one deal."

Gao said that if China and the US reach a phase-one deal, both sides should simultaneously undo existing additional tariffs in the same proportion, which is an important condition for signing a preliminary agreement, Gao said.

The trade conflict began because of additional tariffs, so a truce should be reached through tariff elimination, he added.

On Wednesday, an analysis of data from the US Commerce and Agriculture departments showed that American consumers and businesses paid a total of $7.1 billion in import taxes in September due largely to President Donald Trump's trade war with China.

That was an increase of 9 percent from August and more than 59 percent from a year earlier. Roughly $4.1 billion of the taxes collected in September was through tariffs that Trump imposed on Chinese goods starting in 2018.

The data was released by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a bipartisan anti-tariff campaign.

"Every second the trade war drags on costs Americans $810," according to the campaign's website. "Tariffs are taxes that Americans pay. These taxes are being paid by American farmers, retailers, manufacturers, businesses and consumers."

The increase was largely caused by the 15 percent import taxes applied to about $112 billion of Chinese goods that took effect on Sept 1. That duty increase means 87 percent of textiles and clothing from China and 52 percent of shoes are subject to import taxes.

Since early 2018, Trump has imposed tariffs on more than $360 billion worth of Chinese goods. In October, he canceled a plan to increase tariffs to 30 percent, which was scheduled to take effect on Oct 15, as part of phase one of a deal.

However, he made no mention of the planned tariffs on roughly $200 billion of Chinese goods scheduled to take effect on Dec 15.

It had been reported that Trump and President Xi Jinping may have signed a trade deal at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Chile on Nov 16 and 17. However, the event was canceled due to social unrest in Chile, and both sides are now working on finding a location for the meeting.

Asked about the possible location and timing for signing the deal, Gao said he had no further information.

In another development, China's General Administration of Customs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs are studying lifting the restrictions on US poultry exports to China, Xinhua News Agency reported on Thursday.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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