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China Drops Some U.S. Pork and Soybean Tariffs as Trade Tensions Ease


BEIJING — China will exempt some American soybeans, pork and other agricultural products from additional tariffs, state media reported on Friday, in the latest move by Beijing to ease trade tensions with the United States.

China Central Television, the nation’s official broadcaster, and other official outlets reported the move without disclosing details about the tariff exemptions. But in a brief report issued late Friday afternoon, CCTV cited President Trump’s move on Thursday to delay Washington’s new tariffs by two weeks so that they would take effect after trade talks scheduled for early October.

Depending on the amount of agricultural products exempted, China’s move could be warmly welcomed by Mr. Trump. Some farmers in the United States have been hit hard by tariffs imposed by Beijing on American goods, a retaliation against the White House’s mounting tariffs on Chinese goods. The 2020 presidential election is approaching, and the farming vote is critical in some of the states that supported Mr. Trump in 2016.

The move could also help China with its own problems. Food inflation has been rising as Chinese authorities battle an epidemic of swine fever, which has forced China to cull more than a million pigs. Pork is a staple of the Chinese diet.

The announcement followed signals that China was moving toward resuming purchases of American agricultural products. On Thursday an American soybean industry association said that China had purchased between 600,000 to 1 million metric tons of soybeans for shipment in October.

On Wednesday, in another move toward easing tensions, China published a short list of products to be spared from retaliatory tariffs on American-made goods, including cancer drugs, lubricants and pesticides. But those items are less central to the trade fight. Chinese purchases of American agricultural products make up a significant chunk of its imports from the United States.

Trade tensions between China and the United States had worsened in recent months, following the collapse of talks in May. But senior officials of both governments are set to meet in Washington early next month amid rising economic worries in both countries

At a news conference on Thursday, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Commerce indicated that the government was considering making concessions in order to pave the way for more trade talks.

Chinese companies were beginning to make inquiries about purchases of American soybeans and pork, said the spokesman, Gao Feng.

“We hope the two sides would move in the same direction, take practical actions and provide a sound environment for the trade talks, and it would be good for the two countries, and for the world,” Mr. Gao said.


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