Suggestions of a possible interim trade deal between China and the United States – something to alleviate the strongest economic pressures on the two nations while allowing negotiations on a full trade deal to continue – have triggered a response from China.
President Trump directly stated that such a deal was a possibility, and announced a delay on implementing new tariffs which were due to start on October 1.
“I’d rather get the whole deal done,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “I see a lot of analysts are saying an interim deal, meaning we’ll do pieces of it, the easy ones first. But there’s no easy or hard. There’s a deal or there’s not a deal. But it’s something we would consider, I guess.”Reuters
In response, China’s official Xinhua News Agency has announced exemptions to further tariff increases which it had planned, specific to U.S. soybeans and pork products.
Beijing will allow Chinese businesses to purchase a “certain amount of farm products such as soybeans and pork” from the United States, according to the Xinhua report. “China’s market is big enough and there’s great potential to import high-quality US farm products.”South China Morning Post
The targeted tariff relief aimed at American farmers is a sign that China is willing to negotiate, and it shows their understanding of President Trump’s vulnerabilities. It is understood that he likely needs the support of heartland voters to have a chance at re-election, and many of those voters are either farmers themselves or directly associated with farmers.
Bloomberg reports that Trump’s trade negotiators have been working on the interim deal, which would involve the U.S. backing off on some tariffs in exchange for some promises from China regarding intellectual property and the agreement to purchase more agricultural products, but that the President has yet to sign off on it. The work by the trade representatives indicates that there may, for a change, be some weight to the promises of agricultural relief, although it is uncertain how effective it will be now that alternate international supply chains have been created for many products historically purchased from American growers.