US, China agree to roll back tariffs if phase one deal reached

The U.S. and China have taken another step toward finalizing a part of a longer-term trade deal.

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The two countries have agreed to roll back at least some tariffs on each other's goods if a phase one deal is reached, FOX Business has learned.

The amount of tariff relief will depend on the content of the "phase one" agreement, Chinese Ministry of Finance Spokesperson Gao Feng said early Thursday.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, left, shakes hands with China's Premier Li Keqiang, right, as U.S. National Security advisor Robert O'Brien watches during a bilateral meeting in Bangkok, Thailand Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, on the sidelines of the 35t

"In the past two weeks, lead negotiators have had serious and constructive discussions on resolving issues of core concern. Both sides agreed to remove the additional tariffs imposed in phases as progress is made on the agreement," said Feng. "If China and the US reach a phase one deal, both sides should roll back existing additional tariffs in the same proportion simultaneously."

There have been hopes that the first phase would be signed in coming weeks.

Removing the tariffs has been a key sticking point in getting a deal down.

US, CHINA REPORTEDLY CONSIDER ROLLING BACK TARIFFS TO GET INITIAL TRADE DEAL DONE

Earlier this week it was reported that a 15 percent cut in tariffs on $111 billion in Chinese imports was being discussed.

Talks have recently centered on putting the finishing touches on the phase one pact which would include Chinese purchases of American farm goods, rules to deter currency manipulation and some provisions to protect intellectual property and open up Chinese industries to U.S. firms.

In a conference call Tuesday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he was "reasonably optimistic" that the "phase one" talks would be finished. More difficult issues would wait for later rounds, he said.

XI PROMISES GRADUAL OPENING OF CHINESE MARKETS TO INVESTMENT

"We're hoping Phase 1 will be a precursor of later agreements," Ross said.

Trump and Xi were due to meet at this month's gathering of Asia-Pacific leaders in Chile but the event was canceled due to protests there. That dented hopes a meeting might produce progress, but the Chinese government says the two leaders "maintain contact."

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Both sides are still working on timing and location for a signing ceremony.

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The Associated Press contributed to this article.