There was a ray of hope this week in the United States-China trade war which has been going on for months now. China announced Wednesday that it would exempt 16 categories of products from its tariffs which it had imposed on US goods in retaliation for US tariffs on Chinese goods. US President Donald Trump immediately countered with a conciliatory move of his own – postponement of an increase in US tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods by two weeks.
All these last few months, there has been nothing but reports of tariffs and retaliatory tariffs in seemingly endless tit-for-tat moves by the world’s two top economies. Last October, Trump had raised tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods from 10% to 15%, while tariffs on another %250 billion would go from 25% to 30% on October 1.
China assailed “this kind of unilateral, bullying trade protectionism” in the Commerce Ministry’s website. It announced its own tariffs of 25% and 5% would be imposed on US-made autos and auto parts, on top of its Sept. 1 tariffs on 1,700 items ranging from sweet corn to marble. Another 3,300 items, including coffee and industrial chemicals, would take effect on December 15.
Last Wednesday, however, China unexpectedly announced a step back from the tariff war. It exempted several categories of US goods from its tariffs, including seafood products and anti-cancer drugs, fish feed, and medical linear accelerators. And President Trump was quick with his own conciliatory move.
The US president has been claiming that the protracted trade war is damaging China more than the US. But experts say the US is also feeling its ill effects on US agriculture and industry, and on job creation.
A new round of talks is scheduled next month and the whole world is hoping the two countries will reach agreement that will finally end the trade war that has affected every other nation, including our own. Our exports of fruits to China have been affected, along with parts that we make for China’s appliance exports.
The meeting in Washington, DC, will be the first face-to-face meeting since the rapid escalation of the trade war in recent weeks. China’s chief trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, has been talking by phone with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Any step forward will be welcomed by a worried world. And an agreement that will finally end the trade war will boost markets around the world and launch a new era of optimism in world relations.