China to Halve Tariffs on Some U.S. Imports as Virus Risks Grow

China on Thursday said it would halve additional tariffs levied against 1,717 U.S. goods last year, following the signing of a Phase 1 deal that brought a truce to a bruising trade war between the world’s two largest economies, Reuters writes.

While the announcement reciprocates the U.S. commitment under the deal, it is also seen by analysts as a move by Beijing to boost confidence amid a virus outbreak that has disrupted businesses and hit investor sentiment.

Casting doubts over the immediate outlook, however, was the prospect raised in a local media report that Beijing could invoke a disaster-related clause in the trade agreement, which might allow it to avoid repercussions even if it cannot fully meet the targeted purchases of U.S. goods and services for 2020.

China’s finance ministry said in a statement that from 0501 GMT on February 14, additional tariffs levied on some goods will be cut to 5% from 10% and others lowered to 2.5% from 5%.

The ministry did not state the value of the goods affected by the decision, but the products benefiting from the new rule are part of the $75 billion of goods that China announced last year that it would impose 5% to 10% tariffs on, which came into effect on September 1.

In a separate statement, the finance ministry said the reduction of the tariffs corresponds with those announced by the United States on Chinese goods, which were also scheduled for February 14.

Further adjustments would depend on the development of the bilateral economic and trade situation, the ministry said.

The reductions will cut tariffs on soybeans from 30% to 27.5%, although some traders say the impact could be limited as the 25% tariffs remains in place. Duties on crude oil will fall to 2.5% from 5% that was imposed in September.

The remaining tariffs were scheduled to kick in December 15 but were suspended due to the interim trade deal.

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