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China, US agree to remove tariffs

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
China’s Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng

China and the United States have reached an initial agreement to remove the tariffs they have imposed on each other during their months-long trade war in a phased manner, Beijing has announced.

“In the past two weeks, the negotiation leaders of the two sides have held serious and constructive discussions on properly resolving their core concerns and agreed to roll back the additional tariffs in stages, as progress is made toward a (final) agreement,” China’s Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng said at a news conference on Thursday.

Gao said in order to reach a phase-one agreement, both sides needed to cancel the tariffs already imposed “in the same proportion and simultaneously” as trade negotiations progressed.

“This is an important condition for reaching an agreement,” he said.

The administration of US President Donald Trump launched the trade war with China last year, when it first imposed unusually heavy tariffs on imports from the Asian country. Since then, the two sides have exchanged tariffs on more than 360 billion dollars in two-way trade. The US says a primary goal of the aggressive tariff strategy is to decrease the trade imbalance with China, which totaled 379 billion dollars in 2018.

China had lifted punitive tariffs on American cars and auto parts earlier this year as a goodwill measure while trade talks were underway.

In October, Trump announced a partial deal after meetings in Washington with a Chinese trade delegation.

The deal announced by Trump offered a temporary reprieve from tariffs planned for mid-October.

However, it did not roll back any of the stinging import duties already imposed on hundreds of billions of dollars in trade between the economic powers. Neither did it address another round of import taxes planned for December.

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