China says Beijing, US to lift tariff hikes as talks advance

BEIJING — Washington and Beijing have agreed to gradually cancel tariff hikes as their trade negotiations progress, a Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

Gao Feng, the Commerce Ministry spokesman, said Thursday that envoys had “agreed to a phased cancellation of tariff increases depending on the progress of negotiations.”

He told reporters that if both sides reach a first phase agreement, then based on that deal they will cancel already imposed tariffs proportionately.

Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed last month to resume trade talks aimed at resolving a more than year-long dispute over technology and industrial policy. As part of that truce, they halted further tariff hikes.

But both sides have imposed billions of dollars’ worth of punitive tariffs on each other’s exports and reports have said China wants to have those rolled back as part of any agreement.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said earlier this week that any Phase 1 agreement would be general and cover trade in specific areas such as soybeans and liquefied natural gas. More complicated issues would be tackled in later rounds of negotiations, he said.

Ross, who is traveling in Asia, did not directly say if rolling back tariffs was a possibility in the Phase 1 talks.

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