WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) - The White House is temporarily exempting more than 400 Chinese products from tariffs activated last year as part of the US's ongoing economic sparring with Beijing.
The exclusions cover a wide range of goods, including plastic straws, coffee filters, dog leashes and car radiators, according to documents published on Friday (Sept 20) by the Office of the US Trade Representative, and stem from more than 1,100 exclusion requests made by companies and other US entities.
The decision comes as the US and China are expected to meet for high-level trade talks next month and as both sides have toned down the rhetoric that has defined the year-long conflict.
But the exemptions aren't only intended to mollify Beijing but would also help American businesses hurt by President Donald Trump's tariffs, particularly as he and members of his administration have made inconsistent statements around the possibility of a trade deal.
"I'd rather get the whole deal done," Mr Trump told reporters last week. "We've taken in many, many billions of dollars of tariffs. I'd rather get the entire Chinese done - look, if we're going to do the deal, let's get it done."
"A lot of people are talking about it," the president said, "and I see a lot of analysts are saying an interim deal, meaning we'll do pieces of it - the easy ones first. But there's no easy or hard. There's a deal or there's not a deal. But it's something we would consider, I guess."
Other products slated to be exempt from the tariffs include outdoor wick-burning torches, certain electric-powered skateboards and motorcycles, parts of swimming pool vacuum cleaners and water drinking fountains for pets.
Documents from the US Trade Representative lay out three sets of exclusions.
One set, which is based on tariffs on US$200 billion (S$275 billion) worth of goods implemented last September, will expire in August 2020.
Another set, based on tariffs of US$16 billion worth of goods implemented last August, will expire this time next year.
A third set of exclusions, based on tariffs on US$34 billion worth of books that took effect last July, will also expire this time next year.
Last week, China said it was cancelling planned tariff increases on American soybeans and pork. Days before, China had eased tariffs on 16 US products, including alfalfa and lubricant oils.
Mr Trump responded by delaying a planned tariff increase on US$250 billion of Chinese goods until Oct 15 to avoid conflicts with Beijing's plans to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Chinese revolution.