Sat, Jan 19, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Washington mulls rolling back China tariffs: report


US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday.

Photo: Bloomberg

Officials in US President Donald Trump’s administration are considering measures to roll back tariffs on Chinese products to calm financial markets, the Wall Street Journal reported, which the US Department of the Treasury quickly denied.

US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin is a proponent of easing up on tariffs, while US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has reservations about the idea, the newspaper reported on Thursday, citing unnamed people close to the discussions.

The department disputed the report.

Neither Mnuchin nor Lighthizer has made any recommendations with respect to tariffs or other parts of the negotiations with China, said a department spokesperson working with the administration’s trade team, who characterized the talks as an ongoing process.

Stocks initially surged after the report, before paring gains after the denial was published.

Asian shares also gained yesterday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose more than 1 percent, the Shanghai Composite closed 1.4 percent higher and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 jumped 1.3 percent.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney added 0.5 percent, Seoul’s KOSPI gained 0.2 percent and Singapore’s Straits Times Index put on 0.8 percent, while there were also advances in Taipei, Wellington and Manila.

“The US government has said that there have been no formal talks to scale back tariffs, but the market saw the glass half full as the reports signal that concessions are in the works,” Oanda Corp senior market analyst Alfonso Esparza said.

However, there was still skepticism among analysts, with the two sides still far apart on a number of issues, particularly regarding intellectual property.

The report came after Beijing confirmed that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He (劉鶴) is to travel to Washington at the end of this month for a new round of trade talks.

The Trump administration is scheduled to increase tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent on March 2 if the two sides cannot negotiate a sweeping trade deal by March 1.

Additional reporting by AFP

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