BEIJING — China expects the U.S. to roll back some tariffs on its exports as part of a trade deal, an official newspaper said Monday, reiterating Beijing’s insistence that President Donald Trump’s administration be “flexible” and “reasonable.”
The Communist Party newspaper Global Times ran several articles Monday that emphasized there would be no deal without a promise to phase out the tariffs imposed by Washington.
It cited officials saying that China will buy American farm products and the amount “could be substantial, but it cannot promise a specific number in the deal because the amount must be based on market demands.”
The comments come amid negotiations on a preliminary “Phase 1” agreement aimed at resolving the 18-month-old tariff war between the two largest economies.
“Rolling back tariffs is a must. The China-U.S. trade war (was) instigated by the U.S. with tariffs, so the tariffs have to be cut first,” the newspaper quoted Wei Jianguo, a former Chinese commerce minister as saying.
It said China was already addressing issues such as protection of intellectual property, foreign investment regulations and opening of its financial markets independently of the trade talks.
Chinese officials earlier said the U.S. side had agreed to gradually phase out the tariffs as progress is made on ending the dispute over trade and technology. The U.S. side did not confirm that.
Last week, both sides suggested that they were close to striking a deal. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said he had invited senior U.S. officials to Beijing for further talks. Trump said the talks were in their “final throes” of negotiations.
That was before China reacted with outrage to Trump’s decision to sign legislation supporting human rights in Hong Kong. Officials have not yet specified how or if Beijing will follow through on threats of “countermeasures.”
However, on Monday a Foreign Ministry spokesman announced that China would no longer allow the U.S. Navy to visit Hong Kong. It also announced unspecified sanctions on pro-democracy groups in retaliation for the U.S. Congress’s passage of the human rights bills, including Human Rights Watch and the National Endowment for Democracy.
New U.S. tariffs are set to kick in on many Chinese-made products, including laptops and smartphones, as of Dec. 15. A preliminary deal could avert that. But promising to not implement the next tranche of tariffs would not suffice, the Global Times said.
It said there was a “reasonable choice” for Trump to roll back some tariffs for the first deal and leave others for later, to “save the optics of the deal in the U.S. political climate and save the phase one deal.”
Elaine Kurtenbach, The Associated Press