HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam is considering cutting tariffs on several American products, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on Monday, after U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urged Vietnam to reduce its trade surplus during a visit to Hanoi last month.
Tariffs on chicken and processed chicken meat, almonds, grapes, wheat, pork, and potatoes are all earmarked for reductions, in order re-balance bilateral trade, the ministry said in a statement on its website.
Vietnam has emerged as one of the largest beneficiaries of the trade spat between Washington and Beijing but it is concerned that it could be U.S. President Donald Trump’s next target.
Vietnam’s trade surplus with the United States hit $38.4 billion in the first 10 months of 2019, up 33.66% from a year ago, customs data showed.
The Southeast Asia country is at risk of being labeled a currency manipulator by the Washington because of its trade surplus with the country, a highly positive current account balance and because its central bank has been quite active in terms of net foreign exchange purchases.
The statement said the ministry has proposed reducing the tariff on chicken to 18% from 20% while the United States is expecting to see it cut to 14.5% next year and eliminated in 2028.
“This tariff cut is in line with our commitment in the first year of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP),” the ministry said.
“The proposed rate of the U.S. will be taken into consideration.”
Import tariffs on fresh apples and grapes from the United States are expected to be cut to 8%, on wheat to 3%, on potatoes to 12%, and on pork to 22%, which are all equivalent to Vietnam’s commitment to tariff cuts in the CPTPP, the ministry added.
The United States has suggested tariffs on apples, grapes and wheat should be abolished next year.
Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore
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