Background

President Trump said Sept. 12 that he would be willing to consider an interim trade agreement with China, which could open the door for progress at bilateral talks scheduled for October. The president’s comments came as China announced that it plans to add pork and soybeans to a list of U.S. goods recently exempted from its retaliatory tariffs.

“I see a lot of analysts are saying an interim deal, meaning we’ll do pieces of it, the easy ones first,” press reports quoted Trump as saying. “But there’s no easy or hard. There’s a deal or there’s not a deal. But it’s something we would consider, I guess.” A Bloomberg article reports that some of the president’s top trade advisers have been discussing an interim deal that would “delay and even roll back some U.S. tariffs for the first time in exchange for Chinese commitments on intellectual property and agricultural purchases.”

In the meantime a Chinese state news agency said China will suspend tariffs of 25 to 35 percent on imports of soybeans, pork, and some other agricultural goods from the U.S. That news comes just days after China announced the first 16 U.S. goods excluded from its retaliatory tariffs. While observers say all of these exclusions were primarily granted to meet domestic demand for the affected goods, they are also being seen as a conciliatory gesture ahead of the resumption of bilateral trade talks.

Those negotiations are set to begin with discussions among working-level teams later this month, followed by a meeting of senior officials in early October. Any progress made could prompt the two sides to delay further tariff increases slated for October and December.

For more information, please contact trade consultant Nicole Bivens Collinson at (202) 730-4956.

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