China said on Friday that some high-profile US agricultural products, including pork and soybeans, will be exempt from added tariffs, ahead of trade talks between Beijing and Washington scheduled for October.

The announcement is the latest in a series of appeasement measures between the world’s two biggest economies, who for the past year have been locked in a bitter trade war resulting in tit-for-tat tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade.

“The Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council will exclude some agricultural products such as soybeans and pork from the additional tariffs on US goods,” China’s state news agency Xinhua reported, citing sources.

The move follows President Trump’s unexpected announcement on Wednesday that he would postpone an October 15 tariff increase on Chinese products representing US$250 billion in annual imports.

“We have agreed, as a gesture of good will, to move the increased Tariffs on 250 Billion Dollars worth of goods (25% to 30%), from October 1st to October 15th,” Trump tweeted late Wednesday.

He said the delay was requested by “Vice Premier of China, Liu He, and due to the fact that the People’s Republic of China will be celebrating their 70th Anniversary”, on October 1.

On the same day, China said it would temporarily exempt 16 categories of American products from additional tariffs implemented over the past months.

Trump had previously repeatedly accused Beijing of backtracking on promises to increase US agricultural purchases to reduce America’s huge trade deficit with China, which in 2018 amounted to US$419.52 billion.

The Xinhua report added: “China hopes the United States will be true to its word, make progress on its commitments and create favorable conditions for bilateral agricultural cooperation, said sources with the relevant departments of China.”

In early May, the two countries were on the verge of signing a trade deal when talks were abruptly stopped, the Trump administration then accusing China of giving up its commitments.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday he was “cautiously optimistic” about chances for a deal to resolve the conflict.

“We don’t want a trip that’s just a series of discussions. We want to make meaningful progress,” Mnuchin said.

He did not, however, specify the points that would specifically be raised during the talks.

Trump on Thursday told reporters he preferred to seal a complete deal, but that he might be willing to consider an interim agreement.

“I’d rather get the whole deal done,” he said, but noted analysts have been discussing the possibility of an interim deal “meaning we’ll do pieces of it, the easy ones first”.

“There’s no easy or hard, there’s a deal or there’s not a deal. It’s something we would consider I guess.” (AFP)