US negotiators offer to cut Chinese tariffs by up to 50% on $360B in imports - WSJ sources

Author: Adam Button | Category: News

Breaking report

  • US would reimpose original tariff level if China fails to carry out pledges
  • Would also cancel planned Dec tariffs
  • US tariff offer made in recent days as both sides seek trade deal
  • US asking China for firm commitments on increased US products

Aside from the 'firm commitments on purchases' we don't know what the US is asking for from China. We also don't know if it's acceptable to Beijing. Looks like they've left the ball in Xi's court but I'd assume (hope?) they already had some indication from China about what they wanted.

What's also important to note here is that this would be a pretty substantial phase one trade deal. Lowering tariffs by 50% on $360B in imports would be a big step. The total tariffs right now are on $550B of goods with China countering on $185B billion.

It's not clear which tariffs these might be as the US added tariffs in sequences on $34B, $200B, $300B and $125B along with some tweaks at various points. Chances are that this is mostly from the Sept 1 round of $125B. China had previously demanded the US remove these but the compromise here might have been that these stay on at a lower rate (it would be 5%) with tariffs from previous rounds being cut.

Update: The full story is out right now with a few more details
  • The tariff-reduction offer was made in the past five days or so
  • US side has demanded that Beijing make firm commitments to purchase large quantities of US agricultural and other products, to better protect US IP rights and to allow greater access to China's financial-services sector
China has already taken action on Items #2 and #3. I doubt firm commitments on purchases is a deal breaker but the WSJ report notes that China has balked at firm purchases because they run counter to WTO rules. In the bigger picture, the US demanding China violate the WTO is part of the US strategy to undermine the WTO.

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