China says it will lift tariffs on U.S. soybeans, pork and some other farm goods in yet another sign of easing tensions between the two countries ahead of trade talks scheduled for next month.
The announcement, reported Friday by China's Xinhua news agency, is the latest in a series of recent conciliatory gestures the world's two largest economies have taken to curb their ongoing trade war.
On Thursday, Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said China was looking into purchasing U.S. agricultural goods such as pork and soybeans.
Gao also voiced hope the two sides will continue to create favorable conditions for the upcoming trade talks in Washington.
China previously imposed tariffs of 25 percent on U.S. farm goods and ordered importers to stop buying soybeans, the largest U.S. export to China. Beijing did not indicate Friday whether soybean purchases would resume.
Beijing's tariffs were imposed in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's tariff increases on Chinese products.
On Wednesday, however, Trump announced he was postponing tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15.
He said on Twitter that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He had asked for the delay because of celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China on Oct. 1.
....on October 1st, we have agreed, as a gesture of good will, to move the increased Tariffs on 250 Billion Dollars worth of goods (25% to 30%), from October 1st to October 15th.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2019
Trump's announcement came after China said earlier Wednesday it is exempting a handful of U.S. products from the next round of its sanctions set to begin Sept. 17. They include shrimp, along with a cancer-fighting machine, industrial grease and assorted chemicals.
Mid-level negotiators plan to meet later this month to prepare for the first high-level trade talks between the United States and China since July.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday he is "cautiously optimistic" a deal can be reached to resolve the trade dispute at the coming talks, but warned that Trump stands ready to keep, or even raise, tariffs on Chinese imports.
"The president is a negotiator, and he is prepared to keep these tariffs in place. He's prepared to raise tariffs, if we need to raise tariffs," Mnuchin said in an interview with CNBC.
Democratic Congressman Rick Larsen said in an interview with VOA the U.S. and China are compelled to reach a trade agreement.
"I think that the two largest economies in the world are stuck with each other. And we're not going to tear ourselves away from each other," Larsen said. "Even if we wanted to, we won't because we can't. So we need to find a new accommodation that recognizes the areas where we compete and recognizes the areas where we must cooperate. That is what the two largest economies in the world need to do right now."
The series of tariffs on a large number of products the United States and China buy from each other has rattled investors and made consumers uneasy with the outlook of higher prices.
Trump has long accused China of intellectual property theft and manipulating its currency to make its goods cheaper than American products on the world market.
China says U.S. trade policies are aimed at trying to stifle its ability to compete.