China exempts some US goods from tariffs in lead-up to talks

Workers make desks for export to the US at a factory in Nantong in China’s Jiangsu province. The world’s two largest economies have slapped tit-for-tat tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods. (AFP)
Updated 11 September 2019

China exempts some US goods from tariffs in lead-up to talks

  • Chinese trade deputies expected to meet with their US counterparts in mid-September in Washington

BEIJING: China announced exemptions for 16 types of US products from additional retaliatory duties, in a move that comes as trade negotiators from the two countries prepare to meet later this month to try to de-escalate their protracted tariff row.

The exemptions will apply to US goods including some anti-cancer drugs and lubricants, as well as animal feed such as whey and fish meal, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on Wednesday.

In all, the world’s two largest economies have slapped tit-for-tat tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods in a bitter trade war that has dragged on for well over a year and hurt business investment, profits and global growth.

The items on the two tariff exemption lists — posted on the ministry’s website — will not be subject to additional duties imposed by China on US goods “as countermeasures to US Section 301 measures,” the ministry said in its statement.

The exemption will take effect on Sept. 17 and be valid for a year through to Sept. 16, 2020, it said.

However, the exempted list includes only a small quantity of items in comparison to more
than 5,000 types of US products that are already subject to China’s additional tariffs. Moreover, major US imports, such as soybean and corn, are still subject to hefty additional duties.

Wednesday’s announcement comes before Chinese trade deputies are expected to meet with their US counterparts in mid-September in Washington. That will be followed by minister-level meetings in early October in the US capital, involving Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The South China Morning Post reported, citing an unidentified source, that China was expected to buy more agricultural products in hopes of a better trade deal with the US.

But senior White House adviser Peter Navarro tamped down expectations for the next rounds of trade talks, urging investors, businesses and the public to be patient about resolving trade dispute.

Beijing has previously said it would work on exempting some US products from tariffs if they are not easily substituted from elsewhere. 

The US is by far China’s largest supplier of whey, which is an important ingredient in piglet feed and difficult to source in large volumes from elsewhere.

The Finance Ministry said it will consider more products to be exempted and will make further announcements “at appropriate times.”

Earlier on Wednesday, a survey by a prominent American
business association showed the trade war is souring the profit and investment outlook for US companies operating in the world’s second-biggest economy. 


Oil retreats in face of renewed coronavirus uncertainty

Updated 22 February 2020

Oil retreats in face of renewed coronavirus uncertainty

  • G20 finance leaders to meet in Saudi Arabia at the weekend to discuss risks to the global economy
  • OPEC+ has been withholding supply to support prices and many analysts expect an extension or deepening of the curbs

LONDON: Oil prices fell on Friday as weak Asian data and a rise in new coronavirus cases fuelled uncertainty about the economic outlook while leading crude producers appeared to be in no rush to curb output.

Brent crude was down $1.56, or 2.6 percent, at $57.75 in afternoon trade, while U.S. crude dropped $1.25, or 2.3 percent, to $52.63.

"With Brent failing to breach the $60 level on Thursday despite better than expected U.S. oil inventory data, rising market uncertainty is dragging down oil prices on Friday," said UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo.

"Market participants who benefited from the price rise in recent days might prefer not to go into the weekend with a long position."

 

China reports rise in coronavirus cases.

Japan factory activity shrinks at fastest pace since 2012.

Russia says early OPEC+ meeting no longer makes sense.

Finance leaders from the Group of 20 major economies meet in Saudi Arabia at the weekend to discuss risks to the global economy after new Asian economic and health data kept investors on guard.

Beijing reported an uptick in coronavirus cases on Friday and South Korea reported 100 new cases, doubling its infections. In Japan, meanwhile, more than 80 people have tested positive for the virus.

Factory activity in Japan registered its steepest contraction in seven years in February, hurt by fallout from the outbreak. 

"We still believe that the market is likely to trade lower from current levels, given the scale of the surplus over the first half of this year, and the need for the market to send a signal to OPEC+ that they must take further action at their meeting in early March," said ING analyst Warren Patterson.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday that global oil producers understood it would no longer make sense for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies to meet before the planned gathering.

The group, known as OPEC+, has been withholding supply to support prices and many analysts expect an extension or deepening of the curbs.