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China to exempt certain US pork, soybean imports from retaliatory tariffs

China is working on exempting certain imports of U.S. products, including soybeans and pork, from retaliatory tariffs imposed on American goods, citing applications by relevant enterprises, the country's finance ministry said in a statement.

In July 2018, China's Customs Tariff Commission charged 25% tariffs on imports of certain American products, including soybeans and pork, in response to a U.S. decision to impose same-rate tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of imports from China as a result of the Trump administration's Section 301 investigation that cited the Asian nation's distorting trade practices, including forced intellectual property transfer imposed on American companies doing business there.

The development comes as the two countries have adopted an increasingly conciliatory tone in the past few months. Trade negotiators from the U.S. reportedly expect to finalize a "phase one" trade deal with China before Dec. 15, when new tariffs are set to be imposed on billions of dollars of Chinese imports.

China's reliance on imports of pork, particularly from the U.S., has risen, as the Asian nation's domestic industry continues to be ravaged by African swine fever. The country's consumer price index rose 3.8% year over year in October, its fastest pace in nearly eight years, driven by pork prices surging 101.3% after the disease killed millions of pigs.

The U.S. exported 294.5 million kilograms of pork to China between January and August — more than it did in all of 2018. Virginia-based Smithfield sent 17.6 million kilograms of pork to China between June and September, while Kansas-based Seaboard sold 5.3 million, according to Panjiva records of seaborne shipments.