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Mnuchin: US to keep existing China tariffs until 'phase 2' trade deal

The U.S. will keep the existing tariffs imposed on imports from China until both sides finalize the second stage of their trade negotiations, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, denying earlier reports that the duties would remain in place until after the presidential election in November.

"These tariffs will stay in place until there's a phase two. If [President Donald Trump] gets a phase 2 quickly, he'll consider releasing tariffs as part of phase two," Mnuchin told reporters, adding:"It has nothing to do with the election or anything else."

Mnuchin's remarks followed a Bloomberg News report, citing people familiar with the matter, that the U.S. is unlikely to reduce existing tariffs imposed on Chinese imports until after the presidential election in November. The two sides have reportedly agreed to a 10-month period after "phase one" of their trade deal is signed, during which the White House will assess whether China is abiding by the terms of the deal before deciding on a further reduction in tariffs.

The "phase one" deal is expected to be signed Jan. 15.

In a joint statement, Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer reportedly said there are no agreements for any future reduction in tariffs, adding; "Any rumors to the contrary are categorically false."

S&P 500 futures traded 0.24% lower as of 9:38 p.m. ET on Jan. 14, while Nasdaq 100 futures were down 0.29%.

After the countries agreed to the text of the "phase one" deal in December 2019, the U.S. canceled the imposition of additional 15% tariffs on $160 billion of Chinese goods slated to go into effect Dec. 15, 2019.

China also exempted a list of U.S. goods from countervailing tariffs in signs of further trade progress.