US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said the US was temporarily suspending tariffs on Chinese goods after an agreement was reached to reduce the bilateral trade deficit. “We are putting the trade war on hold,” Mnuchin said on Sunday in a “Fox News Sunday” television interview. “Right now, we have agreed to put the tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework.”
In recent weeks, President Donald Trump had threatened to slap tariffs on as much as $150 billion worth of Chinese imports to force changes in China’s trade practices, to which Beijing responded by vowing to retaliate against US exports, Efe news reported. After two days of negotiations in Washington, the US and China on Saturday announced a framework agreement whereby Beijing agreed to “significantly” increase its purchases of US goods and services in an attempt to mitigate the risks of a trade war.
However, China failed to commit to a specific dollar figure despite Washington’s initial demand for a $200 billion reduction by 2020 in the trade deficit – which hit a record $375 billion last year. Mnuchin downplayed that failure, saying that the two delegations had agreed on “specific targets” for individual sectors but adding that they would not be publicly disclosed. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will soon visit Beijing to finalize the agreement whereby China will import more energy products and agricultural commodities from the US, the treasury secretary said.