WASHINGTON - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Tuesday that talks with China about reducing Beijing's tariff on U.S. ethanol products were "positive" but cautioned the discussions were not yet over.
"There have been conversations with China on reducing that tariff on ethanol, which would obviously be good for our domestic corn industry," he told reporters. "While things look positive, it's never over till it's over with the Chinese."
Beijing last summer imposed retaliatory tariffs of up to 70 percent on U.S. ethanol shipments, which made exports to the key market uneconomical.
The United States and China have been embroiled in a tit-for-tat tariff battle since July 2018, roiling global financial markets and supply chains, and costing both of the world's two largest economies billions of dollars.
U.S. officials are pressing China to make changes to address longstanding concerns over industrial subsidies, technology transfer and intellectual property rights.
The two sides wrapped up the latest round of talks in Washington late last week and will be resuming discussions this week remotely.
Perdue also added that he wanted the Environmental Protection Agency to more tightly control its use of small refinery waivers that exempt plants from their obligation to blend biofuels like corn-based ethanol under the Renewable Fuel Standard, and had discussed the matter with EPA chief Andrew Wheeler.