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Vietnam proposes tariff cuts for agriculture imports from US

Vietnam is studying potential tariff cuts for U.S. agricultural products as it seeks to address concerns from the Trump administration about a growing trade imbalance between the two countries, Reuters and Bloomberg News reported, citing a statement from the Vietnamese Ministry of Finance.

The ministry proposed lowering duties on chicken imported from the U.S. to 18% from 20%, compared with the U.S. government's expectations of a reduced tariff rate of 14.5% in 2020 and a zero tariff rate in 2028. Vietnam also proposed reducing duties on pork imports to 22% from 25%. The U.S. wants to cut these tariffs to 18.9% in 2020 and have them abolished by 2027.

Import duties on U.S. apples and grapes could be reduced to 8% in 2020 from 10% under the ministry's plan, while wheat tariffs could go down to 3% from 5%. The Trump administration wants these tariffs gone by next year. Tariff cuts are also being considered for almonds and potatoes, Reuters reported.

The proposed tariff reductions are in line with Vietnam's commitments in the first year of the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement between 11 Asia-Pacific economies, the Ministry of Finance said.

The goods trade deficit between the U.S. and China reached $46.27 billion in the first 10 months of 2019, already higher than the $39.50 billion trade gap between the two countries in 2018, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

During a visit to Hanoi in November, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urged Vietnam to reduce the trade imbalance.

In May, the U.S. added Vietnam to a monitoring list of economies that "merit close attention" to their currency practices, which the Trump administration said have resulted in trade imbalances with the U.S.