Beijing, May 18: China announced on Friday that it was removing the heavy 178.6 percent tariff imposed a month ago on imports of sorghum, a cereal used as cattle feed, from the US in an apparent goodwill gesture as key talks are underway in Washington over the trade dispute between the two nations. China's Vice Premier Liu He met President Donald Trump and a US negotiating team led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday in the first of two days of talks, the Washington Post reported.
The announcement on sorghum imports came from the Commerce Ministry in Beijing on Friday morning and was not explicitly linked to the trade talks. Indeed, the ministry said it had concluded that the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures it had imposed on the sorghum imports on April 18 would affect the cost of living for Chinese consumers and were not in the public interest.
The pig industry, in particular, had been facing operational difficulties due to the rise in sorghum costs. The tariff had been imposed initially after President Trump threatened to impose similar measures on a number of Chinese products, stoking fears of a trade war between the world's two largest economies.
In 2017, the US exported 4.76 million tonnes -- more than 95 percent of Chinese imports of the cereal, worth $1.1 billion, to China, and the tariff had raised concerns among American agricultural producers. Meanwhile, sources close to the Liu-Trump trade negotiations said that China offered to take steps to reduce US trade deficit in bilateral trade by $200 billion by 2020. But China's Foreign Ministry said this was "not true". "According to my information, the consultation is still underway and it is constructive," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang at a press conference.