G20: US, China declare 90-day halt to new tariffs

The United States and China have agreed to halt additional tariffs as both nations engage in new trade negotiations with the goal of reaching an agreement within 90 days, the White House said yesterday after President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping held high-stakes talks in Argentina.

US President Donald Trump agreed not to boost tariffs on US$200 billion (RM836.9 billion) of Chinese goods to 25 per cent on January 1 as previously announced, while Beijing agreed to buy an unspecified but “very substantial” amount of agricultural, energy, industrial and other products, the White House said in a statement. China “is open to approving the previously unapproved” deal for US company Qualcomm Inc to acquire Netherlands-based NXP Semiconductors “should it again be presented.”

The world’s biggest smartphone-chip maker Qualcomm in July walked away from a US$44 billion deal to buy NXP Semiconductors after failing to secure Chinese regulatory approval, becoming a high-profile victim of the Sino-US trade dispute.

The White House said that if agreement on trade issues including technology transfer, intellectual property, non-tariff barriers, cyber theft and agriculture has not been reached with China in 90 days that both parties agree that the 10 per cent tariffs will be raised to 25 per cent.

Trump slapped 10 per cent tariffs on US$200 billion in Chinese goods in September. China responded by imposing its own round of tariffs. Trump has also threatened to add tariffs on another US$267 billion of Chinese imports.

Xi agreed to designate the drug fentanyl as a controlled substance, the White House said. For more than a year, Trump has raised concerns about the synthetic opioid being sent from China to the United States, which is facing an epidemic of opioid-related deaths.

China also agreed to start purchasing agricultural products from US farmers immediately, the White House said.

US companies and consumers are bearing part of the cost of the US tariffs on China by paying higher prices for goods, and many companies have hiked prices on imported goods. At the same time, US farmers have been hurt by reduced Chinese imports of soybeans and other products.

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