BEIJING/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - China and the United States have agreed to terms of a Phase 1 trade deal on Jan 15 but Beijing has not reduced or waived tariffs on any commodities or energy further.
A senior Trump administration official confirmed on Wednesday that China will need to issue waivers or adjustments to tariffs to meet its buying commitments.
But so far Beijing has not committed to any new waivers or adjustments.
Late last year, the United States reduced some tariffs and Beijing canceled retaliatory duties that were scheduled to take effect on Dec. 15.
Before the Dec. 15, 2019, deal, U.S. corn, sorghum, wheat, undenatured ethanol and refined copper cathodes had faced an additional tariff of 10% on shipments to China. Propane, cotton, aluminum scrap, copper scrap and rare earth magnets were all set for an additional 5% duty.
Below is a list and timeline showing how China’s tariffs on key U.S. commodities and energy items stand after the Phase 1 accord.
China imposed a 5% tariff on U.S. crude oil shipments from Sept. 1, 2019, the first time U.S. oil had been targeted since the trade war between started more than a year ago. The 5% tariff was not affected by the Phase 1 deal.
China, the world’s biggest crude importer, has cut U.S. shipments from a record high in 2018. Chinese customs data showed imports in the first 11 months of 2019 fell by nearly half year-on-year to 6.35 million tonnes. Full year imports by origin will be available at the end of January.
China already removed an additional 5% tariff on U.S. propane shipments that was set to take effect from Dec. 1, 2019. A 25% duty that China imposed on U.S. propane on Aug. 23, 2018, has remained in place. No new waivers came into effect on Jan 15.
Chinese firms process U.S. propane into petrochemicals such as propylene. Imports in 2018 were worth an estimated $2 billion. The punitive tariffs nearly killed the business in the first 11 months of 2019, with imports from the U.S. at 2,443 tonnes.
China imposed a 10% punitive tariff on U.S. LNG shipments in September 2018, raising it to 25% in June 2019. LNG duties were not affected by the Jan 15 deal.
Imports of the super-chilled fuel from the U.S. in the first 11 months of 2019 were 258,955 tonnes, much lower than the 2.15 million tonnes imported in the 12 months of 2018, according to Chinese customs. This is a tiny fraction compared to China’s total LNG imports in the January-November 2019 period at 53.85 million tonnes.
China imposed tariffs of 25% on U.S. methanol and MEG in June 2019. They were not affected by the Jan 15 2020 deal.
Imports of U.S. methanol from January to November 2019 dropped to 109 tonnes compared with 75,118 tonnes in full-year 2018. China imported only 69,600 tonnes of U.S. MEG in the first 11 months of 2019, compared with 147,890 tonnes bought through the whole year of 2018.
These were also a tiny part of China’s total January-November 2019 methanol imports at 9.7 million tonnes and MEG imports at 9.03 million tonnes.
No additional duties have been removed as of Jan 15 but there have been some hefty goodwill waivers on tariffs in recent months.
A 25% tariff on soybeans in July 2018 had halted all buying by commercial buyers, but Chinese crushers went back to the U.S. market following a trade truce in December 2018. An additional 5% duty came into effect in September. The Chinese government has given tariff exemptions to some U.S. soybean imports.
China bought 13.85 million tonnes of soybeans from the United States in January-November, down 16.4% from same period in 2018.
American pork faces total import duties of 72% after including the 12% “most-favored nation” tariff. These duties were not changed in the Jan. 15 deal, but China is expected to boost U.S. meat imports. An outbreak of African swine fever in China has decimated the world’s largest pig herd and sent domestic pork prices soaring to record levels.
Total import tariffs on U.S. frozen pork went down to 68% from Jan. 1, after a cut in tariff rates on frozen pork shipments from all countries. This did not apply to carcasses, chilled pork and offal.
U.S. pork exports to China and Hong Kong were up 49% year-on-year in value at $1.18 billion from January to November 2019.
No changes to duties on scrap metal on Jan 15. An additional duty of 5% on U.S. aluminum scrap, which would have been effective on Dec. 15, 2019, was canceled last month. The material was already affected by an initial 25% tariff in April 2018, followed by another 25% in August 2018.
Shipments of aluminum scrap to China were down only 19.7% year-on-year in the first 11 months of 2019, but those of U.S. scrap copper, subject to a 25% tariff since August 2018, crashed by 75.7% over the same period.
China in 2019 raised the prospect of restricting rare earth exports to the United States but has not announced any formal curbs or export duties. In the other direction, it has levied 25% tariffs on imports of U.S. rare earth ore and rare earth magnets since June 2019 but canceled an additional 5% tariff on the latter that was due to take effect in December 2019.
Reporting by Chen Aizhu, Muyu Xu, Dominique Patton, Tom Daly, Shivani Singh and Hallie Gu; editing by Kenneth Maxwell, Robert Birsel and Larry King