WASHINGTON: China is considering a US request to shift some tariffs on key agricultural goods to other products so the Trump administration can sell any eventual trade deal as a win for farmers ahead of the 2020 election, people familiar with the situation said.
The step would involve China moving retaliatory duties it imposed starting last July on US$50 billion worth of US goods to non-agricultural imports, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions were private. The shift is because the US doesn't intend to lift its own duties on US$50 billion of Chinese imports even if an agreement to resolve the trade war between the two nations is reached, one of the people said, report agencies.Another person said China would consider shifting the tariffs to make it easier to meet a proposal to buy an additional US$30 billion a year more of US agricultural goods on top of pre-trade war levels as part of a final deal. Last July, China had levied punitive tariffs on American goods including soy, corn, wheat, cotton, rice, beef, pork and poultry in response to US duties.
A spokesperson for the US Trade Representative didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. China's Commerce Ministry didn't respond to faxed questions.
The bartering shows that both sides are taking political considerations into account as negotiations drag on to end the trade war, which has rattled financial markets for months. An outcome that completely removes punitive tariffs looks increasingly unlikely as Trump looks to hone his campaign message and continues to threaten the European Union, India and other countries with trade actions.
The people didn't specify which other goods would receive higher tariffs instead of agricultural products. Other top imports included aircraft engines and parts, semiconductors, passenger cars and chemicals.