A ray of hope in US-China trade war

Published September 15, 2019, 12:41 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

E CARTOON Aug 18, 2019There 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.