China is trying to persuade the United States to drop $360 billion in Chinese imports before President Xi Jinping agrees to go to the United States to sign a partial trade deal with US President Donald Trump, according to people familiar with the matter.
Negotiators asked the Trump administration to cut tariffs on about $110 billion on goods imposed in September and cut the 25 percent tariff rate to about $250 billion that began last year, according to a source on the trade discussions.
Chinese officials also indicated that the United States could temporarily waive some tariffs, according to people familiar with Beijing’s stance. In return, China could remove tariffs on the reciprocal quantity of US goods, mostly agricultural products.
China had earlier demanded that Trump cancel plans to impose duties on about $160 billion in imports, which would hit favored consumers such as smartphones and laptops.
The Financial Times reported earlier that US officials were discussing whether to remove tariffs in September, including clothing, appliances and flat-panel displays. The Ministry of Commerce in Beijing did not respond to the comments on China’s position.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other officials have consistently argued that paying $250 billion in goods is a way to make sure that China lives up to its obligations and should exist in the long run.
Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday reaffirmed China’s commitment to economic openness and the global trading system in a speech in Shanghai, showing a softer tone than his speech to the same conference a year ago, with some disguised blows to America and Trump’s policies. The two presidents are working on a face-to-face meeting to agree on the first phase of the trade deal, which includes Chinese pledges to increase purchases of US agricultural products, maintain currency stability and protect intellectual property.
China is reviewing US locations, where the Chinese president would meet Trump, the Bloomberg News reported on Monday. Chinese officials had initially hoped the signing would be linked to an official state visit, he said, adding that no final decision had been made.
US Trade Secretary Wilbur Ross said at a news conference in Bangkok on Tuesday that the completion of one phase would help rebuild trust between the two sides, hoping that the deal would be a prelude to further discussions.