BEIJING: China said on Thursday that Chinese companies have started to inquire about prices for US agricultural goods purchases, in a sign of a potential de-escalation in a bitter trade war between the two countries.
The move comes before a meeting in early October between top US and Chinese trade negotiators aimed at easing the trade conflict that has rattled financial markets.
On Wednesday, the US agreed to delay increasing tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15 “as a gesture of goodwill.” The tariffs were set to increase to 30 percent from 25 percent on the goods.
Speaking at a news briefing in Beijing, Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said China welcomed the US move.
“According to my understanding, Chinese firms have started to inquire about prices for US agricultural goods. (China) hopes both sides would continue to meet each other half way and adopt concrete actions to create favorable conditions for negotiations,” he said.
Possible purchases of US farm goods included pork and soybeans, Gao said. Despite tariffs of 62 percent since last year, US exports of pork to China rose 51 percent in the first seven months of 2019 over last year to 240,000 tons, according to the US Meat Export Federation.
China reduced purchases of US farm products in August, after Trump vowed to impose new tariffs on around $300 billion of Chinese goods, blaming Beijing for not having fufilled a promise to buy large volumes of US farm products and abruptly dimming prospects of a trade deal.
Gao said teams from both countries will meet soon to prepare for the next round of top-level talks between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.