Trump agrees to limit trade deal with China, sources say

The U.S. government has agreed to suspend some tariffs on Chinese goods and cut back on others in exchange for Beijing’s pledge to increase purchases of U.S. farm products in 2020, sources said on Thursday (Dec 12), reported Reuters. It will be a step towards de-escalating the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.

A source briefed on the status of bilateral negotiations said the United States would suspend tariffs on US$160 billion (S$216.3 billion) in Chinese goods expected to go into effect on Dec 15 and roll back existing tariffs.

In return, Beijing would agree to buy US$50 billion in U.S. agricultural goods in 2020, double what it bought in 2017, before the trade conflict started, two US-based sources briefed on the talks said.

However, as without any official statement released from the White House, questions were raised about whether the agreement has been reached by both sides.

Two people familiar with the negotiations had said earlier on Thursday that U.S. negotiators were offering to reduce existing tariffs on Chinese goods by as much as 50 per cent while keeping on hold the new tariffs originally scheduled to take effect this Sunday in an attempt to secure a “Phase 1” deal first promised in October.

Mr Trump said in a White House news conference on Oct 11 with Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He that the two countries had agreed to a Phase One trade deal on “intellectual property, financial services” and a “purchase of from US$40 billion to US$50 billion worth of agricultural products”.

A written agreement would be available in weeks, Mr Trump said then, adding: “We’ve agreed in principle to just about everything I mentioned, all of the different points.”