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US officials consider lifting China tariffs: report

[WASHINGTON] US officials have considered lifting tariffs on Chinese imports to calm volatile stock markets and encourage Beijing to make concessions in current trade talks, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

American and Chinese trade officials have until March 1 to resolve their trade war, to prevent a sharp increase in punitive US duties on US$200 billion in Chinese goods.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin raised the idea of revoking tariffs on some or all of the US$250 billion in Chinese goods impacted, during discussions on the strategy for the current talks but the question has not yet reached the White House, according to The Journal.

The US stock market reacted favorably to the report, with equities prices closing higher after being flat for most of the day.

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The talks with Beijing are being led by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who has taken a more hard line position on trade than Mnuchin.

The Treasury Department told AFP on that the trade talks with China were "nowhere near completion."

"Neither Secretary Mnuchin nor Ambassador Lighthizer have made any recommendations to anyone with respect to tariffs or other parts of the negotiation with China," a spokesperson working with the trade team said by email.

CNBC quoted a senior White House official involved in the trade talks saying that Mr Trump had no incentive to offer concessions, and officials instead were focused on preparations for talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He set for January 30-31 in Washington.

US President Donald Trump tweeted January 8 that the talks with Beijing were "going very well!"

But the trade war has rattled stock markets in the months since, putting pressure on the White House to reach a resolution.

Mr Trump launched the trade war last year and the two sides have since exchanged tit-for-tat tariffs on more than US$360 billion in two-way trade.

AFP