06/27/2018, 13.47
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Beijing turns to Asia-Pacific to avoid US import duties

As agreed in 2016, Beijing will cut duties on many products from South Korea, India, Bangladesh, Laos and Sri Lanka on 1st July. However, this is not likely to change much at the negotiating table with Washington. Tensions continue between the two economic giants.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - China is turning to Asia to avoid US import duties.

Against the background of its trade war with the United States, Beijing yesterday announced a long list of tariff cuts on imports from South Korea, India, Bangladesh, Laos and Sri Lanka that will take effect on 1st July,

The cuts are part of China’s commitments to reduce tariffs under the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement signed in 2016 after a decade of negotiations.

Beijing’s decision to put the agreement into effect next week comes five days before US tariffs on US billion worth of imports from China come into effect.

The reductions concern soybeans, as well as chemicals, agricultural products, medical supplies, clothing, steel, non-ferrous metals and liquid propane gas.

The move will have little real impact on China’s economy. China is the world’s biggest soybean importer, but not from the countries that will benefit from tariff cuts.

Also existing free-trade deals that overlap with the Asia-Pacific agreement also make it less important for China, for example with South Korea, as well as Laos under the China-ASEAN free-trade pact.

This will give China little advantage at the negotiating table with Washington.

Given the current state of affairs, it is unlikely that Beijing will be able to avoid US tariffs despite the efforts of Vice-Premier Liu he, the Harvard-educated economist who is Beijing’s point man at the trade talks.

Meanwhile, military tensions between the two countries remain high. The US has criticised Chinese military deployment in the South China Sea. Conversely, China is hostile to the US military presence in Taiwan.

Today, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Beijing, seeking an "open dialogue". However, many Chinese analysts doubt the visit will make much of a difference; instead, they expect the two sides to simply reiterate their respective positions.

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