December 3, 2018 / 6:34 PM / 9 days ago

White House adviser expects China's tariffs on U.S. autos to fall to zero

Newly manufactured cars are seen at the automobile terminal in the port of Dalian, Liaoning province, China October 18, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow on Monday said that China could immediately slash its vehicle tariffs, as the country enters a 90-day truce in the current trade war with the United States to negotiate a trade deal, as he reiterated China’s pledge to begin lifting barriers immediately.

Kudlow said on a call with reporters that he believed the immediate action could include China reducing its 40 percent tariffs on U.S.-produced vehicles and that he expects Beijing will quickly roll back new retaliatory tariffs it had imposed on agricultural imports as the trade war heated up.

“We expect those tariffs to fall to zero,” he said in reference to the auto tariffs.

Kudlow said that the 90-day clock for negotiations would start on Jan. 1, but that China had pledged to start lifting both tariff and non-tariff barriers quickly, and could act as soon as Monday. A White House official later corrected Kudlow’s remark, saying the clock started on Dec. 1.

“I’ve never heard that ‘immediately’ commitment before,” Kudlow said. “Now, you ask me what that means specifically, all I can say is we’ll see. I presume it will include things like car tariffs and various transactions and agriculture industry, energy and so forth. It could mean licensing, ownership. They are pretty close to some agreements on the IP (intellectual property) theft. And we’re pretty close to agreements on the forced transfer of technology.”

(This story corrects date in fourth paragraph with White House official saying Kudlow misspoke on when 90-day clock starts)

Reporting by Susan Heavey and David Lawder, writing by Lisa Lambert; editing by G Crosse and Andrea Ricci

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