U.S. President Donald Trump said he had asked China to immediately remove all tariffs on U.S. agricultural products because trade talks were progressing well.
He also delayed plans to impose 25 percent tariffs on Chinese goods on Friday, as previously scheduled.
“I have asked China to immediately remove all Tariffs on our agricultural products (including beef, pork, etc.) based on the fact that we are moving along nicely with Trade discussions,” Trump said on Twitter, pointing out that he had not raised tariffs on Chinese goods to 25 per cent from 10 per cent on March 1 as planned.
“This is very important for our great farmers – and me!” Trump said.
Farmers are a key constituency for Trump’s Republican Party, and the U.S. president’s trade war with China has had a heavy impact on them. Beijing imposed tariffs last year on imports of soybeans, grain sorghum, pork and other items, slashing shipments of American farm products to China.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said this week that U.S. trade negotiators had asked China to reduce tariffs on U.S. ethanol, but it was not immediately clear whether Beijing was willing to oblige.
Trump’s post on Twitter came several hours after the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said that it would delay the scheduled hike in tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.
The notice, due to be published in the Federal Register next Tuesday, says it is “no longer appropriate” to raise the rates because of progress in negotiations since December 2018. The tariff would remain “at 10 percent until further notice.”
In a statement on Saturday, China said it welcomed the delay.
Speaking at a separate briefing in Beijing, a Chinese government official said both countries were working on the next steps, though he gave no details.
“China and the United States reaching a mutually-beneficial, win-win agreement as soon as possible is not only good for the two countries but is also good news for the world economy,” said Guo Weimin, spokesman for the high profile but largely ceremonial advisory body to China’s parliament.
A tariff increase to 25 percent from 10 percent was initially scheduled for Jan. 1, but after productive conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Trump administration issued a 90-day extension of that deadline.
Trump had said on Sunday he would again delay the increase because of progress in the talks.
Boeing Co opened its first 737 completion plant in China on Saturday, a strategic investment aimed at building a sales lead over arch-rival Airbus in one of the world's top travel markets that has been overshadowed by the U.S-China trade war.
The world's largest planemaker was also poised to deliver the first of its top-selling 737s completed at the facility in Zhoushan, about 290 km (180 miles) southeast of Shanghai, to state carrier Air China during a ceremony on Saturday with top executives from both companies.
Boeing and Airbus have been expanding their footprint in China as they vie for orders in the fast-growing aviation market, which is expected to overtake the United States as the world's largest in the next decade.
Boeing invested $33 million last year to take a majority stake in a joint venture with state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC) to build the completion centre, which installs interiors and paints liveries.
Chicago-based Boeing calls itself the top U.S. exporter and delivered more than one out of every four jetliners it made last year to customers in China, where it forecasts demand for 7,700 new airplanes over the next 20 years valued at $1.2 trillion.
However, the plant's inaugural ceremony was overshadowed by tensions between the United States and China as they engage in a bruising tit-for-tat tariff war. The world's two largest economies are in a 90-day detente to negotiate a trade deal.
"Am I nervous about the situation? Yeah, of course. It's a challenging environment," John Bruns, President of Boeing China, told reporters on a conference call earlier on Saturday.
"We have to keep our eye on the long game in China. Long term, I'm optimistic we will work our way through this," he said.
While the trade frictions have hurt businesses such as U.S. soy bean farmers and Chinese manufacturers, their impact on Boeing has been unclear. U.S.-made aircraft have so far escaped Beijing's tariffs.
Bruns said he remained optimistic about the outcome of trade talks between the United States and China and described aviation as a "bright spot" amid tensions between the two countries.
Asked about the possibility of technology transfer agreements between Boeing and COMAC, Bruns stressed that the purpose of the plant was for installing seats, painting vehicles, and completing the planes' final delivery.
"That's only a part of what we do in the production of airplanes," he said.
Boeing aims eventually to hit a delivery target of 100 planes a year at Zhoushan, although Bruns deflected a question on how quickly it would reach that level and said Boeing had no plans to expand work to other aircraft types.
Boeing also hopes the plant will relieve pressure at the Seattle-area facility where it plans to boost production next year of its best-selling 737 narrowbody aircraft but has struggled with production delays.