The Chinese government said it will extend a suspension of retaliatory tariffs on US autos and include the opioid fentanyl in a list of controlled substances, two steps that could generate a positive atmosphere for trade negotiations due to resume this week.
Beijing temporarily scrapped the 25 percent tariff imposed on vehicles as a tit-for-tat measure on January 1, after the White House delayed a rise in tariffs on $200 billion of products that had been due that day.
The Ministry of Finance announced an extension of the suspension, without giving a specific end date.
Vice Premier Liu He, China’s trade envoy, left for the US, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Chinese officials also pledged to tighten regulation on fentanyl from next month, a promise President Xi Jinping already made to President Donald Trump at a December meeting in Argentina. The inclusion of the drug as a controlled substance in a category of non-medicinal narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances will start from May 1, according to the China National Narcotics Control Commission.
The moves signal China is trying to keep momentum in trade talks as they enter what could be the final stretch before Trump and Xi are presented with a text to finalise or sign. Beijing is determined to prevent an escalation of the frictions that have hurt its economy and roiled markets, even as enforcement measures remain a sticking point in
“What matters is not whether these are big concessions or not, but that they are a quick response to the US concerns,” said Gai Xinzhe, a senior analyst at Sino Ocean Capital in Beijing. “It’s not like in the past when issues raised in bilateral dialogues dragged on without solution. This is good for enhancing mutual trust in the negotiations.”
China touted “new progress” in talks after US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin visited Beijing. Both sides have been working line-by-line through the text of an agreement that can be put before Trump and Xi, people familiar said earlier.
The continued suspension of auto tariffs seeks to “create a good atmosphere for China-US economic and trade talks” and is a “positive response” to the US decision to delay import tax increases, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement.