China exempts some US goods from tariffs ahead of new negotiations
China confirmed it would exempt 16 categories of US goods from 25% tariffs that it imposed on roughly $50bn worth of imports last summer.
Beijing's Ministry of Finance said the exemptions would apply to items that include some medicines, animal feed and lubricants, although more than 5,000 types of US goods, including key agricultural products such as soybeans and corn, remained subject to the additional tariffs.
Importers would be able to apply for refunds on previously affected purchases of 12 of the now-exempted goods.
The move appeared to be a positive step in relations with the US, as senior negotiating teams from the two superpowers prepared to meet in Washington next month in a rekindled attempt to resolve the long-running trade war.
But Artur Baluszynski, head of research at investment manager Henderson Rowe, said observers should not read too much into the exemptions, with Beijing having previously indicated a willingness to avoid tariffs on some products with limited availability.
"Chinese tariffs that really matter are the ones on US agricultural and manufacturing goods, produced mainly in states with strong support for Donald Trump and we just don’t see China willing to negotiate on them before the race for US presidential elections really kicks off," added Baluszynski.
However, The South China Morning Post cited a source that claimed Beijing will make a commitment to purchase more US agricultural goods in an attempt to improve a future trade deal.
Any such deal still seemed far off, with senior White House adviser Peter Navarro on Wednesday urging the American public to be patient ahead of the return to the negotiating table.
"If we’re going to get a great result, we really have to let the process take its course," Navarro told CNBC.