China’s Commerce Ministry said Thursday that Beijing and Washington have agreed in principle to roll back existing tariffs in phases if trade talks between the two countries move forward.
Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said both sides had agreed to simultaneously cancel some tariffs on each other’s goods, CNBC reported, citing the Chinese state broadcaster.
Both sides were closer to a so-called “phase one” trade agreement after constructive negotiations over the past two weeks, he added.
“If the two sides achieve a ‘Phase 1’ agreement, then based on the content of that agreement, tariffs already increased should be canceled at the same time and by the same rate,” Gao said at a news briefing, adding that the size of the reductions would depend on the agreement.
Gao stressed that one important condition for a limited trade agreement was that the US and China must remove the same amount of charges at the same time, according to the report.
News about a “phase one” trade agreement prompted US stock index futures to rally Thursday morning — with Dow futures poised to open up more than 120 points.
The two governments have raised tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s goods in the fight over China’s trade surplus and technology ambitions.
That weighs on trade and threatens to depress global economic growth that already shows signs of slowing.
President Trump, who agreed to postpone a planned tariff hike while lower-level officials hammered out details, said China had agreed to buy up to $50 billion of American farm goods.
The Oct. 12 agreement helped ease market jitters, but the two sides have yet to announce progress on major disagreements over technology and other irritants following 13 rounds of talks.
Trump and President Xi Jinping were due to meet at this month’s gathering of Asia-Pacific leaders in Chile but that event was canceled because of protests there.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross this week said any “Phase 1” agreement would be general and cover trade in specific areas such as soybeans and liquefied natural gas. More complex issues would be tackled in later negotiations, he said.
With Post wires
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