No discussion yet on China tariffs

Andrew Cummings
December 7, 2019

The US and China are moving closer to agreeing on the amount of tariffs that would be rolled back in a phase-one trade deal despite tensions over Hong Kong and Xinjiang, people familiar with the talks said. "It is probably even a wee bit closer than when I first made that statement in November". "The reality is constructive talks, nearly daily talks".

At a press conference in Beijing on Thursday, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng again said that if the two sides agreed on an interim trade deal, "tariffs should be reduced accordingly", the paper reported.

"In some ways, I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal", he said, noting that he did not have a deadline for a deal ahead of the proposed tariffs. The planned tariffs on remaining Chinese imports will take effect on December 15 if there is no significant progress in the talks or a deal, he said.

World stocks were hit on Tuesday after Trump warned there was no deadline for a trade deal with China.

On Thursday, the often-verbose president was notably succinct when a reporter asked about the on-again/off-again/on-again China trade negotiations, including whether he would follow through on a threat to slap 15 percent tariffs on $160 billion worth of Chinese-made items on December 15.

In a sign that a final "phase one" agreement is likely some time away, Kudlow revealed conversations are now happening at the "deputy level".

A person familiar with the Chinese government's stance on the trade negotiations told Reuters the phase one trade deal could be in jeopardy if the House bill on Uighurs becomes law.

"I say intense because this is a very important matter", he told the business-focused network. "There are so much at stake here when you go through the various categories". The US wants China's commitment on the protection of intellectual property rights and other sticking points.

On a phone call last week, lead Chinese trade negotiator Vice-Premier Liu He discussed "core issues of concern" with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Trump announced Monday the USA will restore steel and aluminum tariffs on imports from Brazil and Argentina. The latest impasse on the technology transfer and other issues could push the talks into 2020, an USA election year. "It's got to be right", he said. "We will walk away", Kudlow insisted.

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