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China to cut tariffs on US imports

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Workers prepare to load a container ship in the Ningbo port. afp

China to cut tariffs on US imports

China said on Thursday it will halve punitive tariffs on $75 billion in US imports from February 14, a month after Beijing and Washington signed a truce in their long-running trade war.

The reduction will apply to levies of five per cent and 10 per cent that were imposed on more than 1,700 items in September, according to the State Council Tariff Commission.

Products that had been hit by the 10 per cent tariffs included fresh seafood, poultry and soybeans.

Tariffs also applied to items such as tungsten lamps for scientific and medical purposes, as well as some types of aircraft.

The move is aimed at “promoting the healthy and stable development of China-US economic and trade relations”, the Commission said in a statement.

It added that the reduction will kick in at 0501 GMT on February 14 – the same day Washington is expected to halve tariffs on $120 billion worth of Chinese products.

The Commission added it “hopes that both parties will be able to abide by their agreement, strive to implement its relevant content, [and] boost market confidence”.

Other retaliatory tariffs, however, remain in place.

‘Best’ ever

The US and China in January signed a partial deal that dialled down tensions in their bruising trade war, with Beijing agreeing to buy an additional $200 billion in US goods over the next two years.

As part of the phase one deal, the US would halve its tariffs on $120 billion of Chinese goods to 7.5 per cent, and the Trump administration called off added tariffs that would have taken effect last December.

At US President Donald Trump’s annual State of the Union address this week, he said US-China relations are the “best” ever currently.

China’s latest tariff reductions come as it grapples with a shortage of resources in a fight against a new coronavirus, which has claimed more than 560 lives.

On Tuesday, a top US trade official said the virus outbreak will delay Beijing’s plans to buy goods from the US under the phase one deal.

But Washington expects “minimal impact” from the virus on the US economy.

China’s recent virus outbreak has caused Beijing to impose travel restrictions across cities, with millions of consumers staying home during its otherwise busy Spring Festival holiday.

This is expected to take a hit on China’s already slowing economy, as companies and factories delayed resumption of operations.

Over the weekend, Beijing announced that US imports that can be used in its fight against the deadly virus will be also be exempted from retaliatory tariffs imposed in the trade war.

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