USA downplays Chinese announcement that tariff rollback is on the cards

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The dollar slid and the three-day global stock market rally paused as USA productivity data disappointed and investors turned a bit cautious about U.S.

The trade deficit between China and the U.S.is around $419.2 billion, with Washington importing a record $539.5 billion worth of goods from Beijing last (2018) year.

Washington and Beijing have been embroiled in a bruising trade battle for 18 months, with punitive tariffs slapped on two-way trade worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

But experts warn the pact could still fall apart.

Gao Feng, the ministry's spokesperson, said that both sides agree phasing out the tariffs proportionally is "an important condition for reaching the agreement".

Gao said both sides agreed to remove additional tariffs imposed in phases as progress was made on the agreement.

Chinese officials said earlier Thursday that tariff reductions had been agreed, and a USA official confirmed that that was the case.

But markets have been buoyed this week by expectations of an interim trade deal.

The U.S. -China trade war that Trump began has been a drag on both nation's economies, and the leaders had initially expected to take a step toward resolving it ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections at an worldwide summit in Chile this month.

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"Looking ahead, we think that subdued global growth will continue to weigh on exports", Martin Rasmussen, the China economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a note on Friday.

The Oct. 12 agreement helped ease market jitters, but the two sides have yet to announce progress on major disagreements over technology and other irritants following 13 rounds of talks.

"The spectacle of the Chinese propaganda press putting out information like that, they're just negotiating in public, trying to push us in a direction, but the president makes these decisions", he said.

US locations for a Trump-Xi meeting that had been proposed by the White House, including Iowa and Alaska, have been ruled out, the person said.

Mr. Trump and Xi were due to meet at this month's gathering of Asia-Pacific leaders in Chile but that event was canceled due to protests there.

But there is a divide within the administration over whether rolling back tariffs will give away US leverage in the negotiations, current and former administration officials said.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said this week any "Phase 1" agreement would be general and cover trade in specific areas such as soybeans and liquefied natural gas.

"In the past two weeks, lead negotiators have had serious and constructive discussions on resolving issues of core concern".

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