US and China halt imposing import tariffs

China and the US say they will halt imposing punitive import tariffs, putting a possible trade war “on hold”.

The deal came after talks in the US aimed at persuading China to buy $200bn (£148bn) of US goods and services and thereby reduce the trade imbalance.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin did not give figures, but said the US would impose tariffs worth $150bn if China did not implement the agreement.

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He described the deal as a “win-win choice”.

Washington says the agreement will “substantially reduce” its $335bn annual trade deficit with Beijing.

Mr Mnuchin told Fox News the two sides had made “very meaningful progress” and we agreed a framework deal under which China would buy more US goods “to substantially reduce the trade deficit”.

But he added: “We are putting the trade war on hold. Right now we have agreed to put the tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework” of the agreement.

Mr Mnuchin said the two sides had agreed concrete numbers, which he did not want to disclose. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross would travel to China soon, he said, to work on details.

The US has announced tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium. Countries accounting for the bulk of those imports have been exempted, but China is not among them.

Beijing has threatened equal retaliation, including tariffs on a number of US imports – among them aircraft, soybeans, cars, pork, wine, fruit and nuts.

US President Donald Trump has also said he wants to persuade China to end what he calls the theft of American intellectual property – such as technology and copyright.

Mr Mnuchin said the new framework agreement included that priority, as well as structural changes to Chinese economy to enable fair competition for US companies.

This, however, would take time, China’s vice-premier said.

Mr Liu said his visit to the US had been “positive, pragmatic, constructive and productive”.

Referring to the “healthy development of China-US economic and trade relations”, he said the two countries “should properly handle their differences through dialogue and treat them calmly in the future”.

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