China and US in ‘close communication’ as $160bn tariffs loom

11:30, 12 December 2019

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China and the US are in close talks as Washington prepares to impose fresh tariffs on Chinese goods this weekend.

The US is due to impose tariffs on almost $160 billion (£121bn, €143bn) of Chinese imports such as video game consoles, computer monitors and toys on Sunday December 15. US President Donald Trump is expected to meet top trade advisers to discuss the move, sources told Reuters.

The senior trade advisers are expected to present their views during the meeting, but the final decision will be down to Trump.

“The two sides’ economic and trade teams are maintaining close communication,” Gao Feng, spokesman at the Chinese commerce ministry, said.

The countries agreed in October to conclude a preliminary trade arrangement, but deals have failed on agricultural purchases by China and rollbacks of existing tariffs imposed by the US.

In August, China said it would impose 5 and 10 per cent additional tariffs on $75 billion of US goods in two batches. The first batch of tariffs took effect on September 1, hitting US goods including soybeans, pork, beef, chemicals and crude oil.

China also said at the time that it would reinstate on December 15 tariffs that had been suspended at the beginning of 2019. These are an additional 25 per cent tariff on US-made vehicles and 5 per cent tariffs on auto parts.

Beijing has said it would hit back if the US escalates the trade dispute.

A decision to proceed with the levies could prolong the 17-month US-China trade war.

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