China says U.S. agrees to lower tariffs

The proportion of tariffs cancelled must be the same and how much tariffs should be cancelled can be negotiated said a spokesman for China's commerce ministry

Contradicting earlier reports that Washington and Beijing had struck a tentative deal to scale back tariffs, hawkish United States trade adviser Peter Navarro put a damper on the news, insisting there was no agreement as of yet.

Earlier, China's commerce ministry said it had reached a deal with Washington to remove tariffs on each other's goods as part of the agreement.

"The trade war started with tariffs and should end with the cancellation of tariffs", he said in a news briefing.

If the proposals go ahead it is likely to boost the global economy, which has been hammered by tensions between.

In the latest sign of weakness, official data showed overseas shipments fell 0.9% year-on-year last month, although that was much slower than the 3.2% drop seen in September.

"The question right now is what the two sides have actually agreed on - the market's focus has shifted to how the USA may react to China's tariff remarks tonight or in coming days", Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd (華僑銀行) economist Tommy Xie (謝東明) said.

Stock markets rallied after Mr Gao's comments, the first concrete sign in months that not only is a partial deal between the world's two largest economies in sight, but also that the unwinding of punitive tariffs that have dragged global economic growth is on the table.

The two sides continue to negotiate over where and when a "phase one" deal would be signed.

USA trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, is one of several officials who have argued that the duties on the $250bn of goods are a way of making sure China lives up to its commitments and should be in place for the long term.

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As China grapples with a protracted trade war with the U.S. and slowing domestic demand, the country's economy grew at the slowest rate in 27 years in the third quarter.

The report added there is a divide over removal of tariffs amid concerns that it could be disadvantageous to Washington in negotiations with Beijing.

China's imports of American soybeans and other goods tumbled more than 26% in the first nine months of this year following tariff hikes and orders to importers to find other suppliers.

Dozens of venues have been suggested for the meeting, which had originally been scheduled to take place on the sidelines of a now-canceled mid-November summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in Chile, the official said.

"The spectacle of the Chinese propaganda press putting out information like that, they're just negotiating in public, trying to push us in a direction, but the president makes these decisions", he said.

That dampened hopes a face-to-face meeting might produce progress. Reuters said the agreement to remove tariffs has faced fierce opposition from within the White House and from outside advisers.

Reuters said the USA also has confirmed it, citing an anonymous US official.

More complicated issues would be tackled in later negotiations, Ross said. He gave no indication whether rolling back tariffs was a possibility at this stage.

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