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Report: US, China preparing to delay Dec. 15 tariffs

The U.S. and China are preparing to delay new tariffs scheduled to take effect Dec. 15 as trade negotiators continue to hammer out a final "phase one" agreement, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing officials from both countries.

Officials involved in the negotiations said they are not facing a hard deadline, according to the report. Washington and Beijing also hinted that talks could continue after Dec. 15, which is the date set by U.S. President Donald Trump for the imposition of an additional 15% tariff rate on $165 billion of Chinese goods.

The Trump administration's demand for China to commit to increased purchases of U.S. poultry, soybeans and other agricultural products remains the largest hurdle in the talks, the report added, citing sources briefed on the negotiations. The U.S. wants China to make an upfront commitment regarding the purchases, while Beijing wants the size of the purchases to be equal with the extent of a potential tariff relief from Washington.

Washington also wants China to commit to a quarterly review of the increased agricultural purchases as part of the interim trade deal, a demand resisted by Beijing, the report's sources said.

Chinese officials believe the Trump administration will postpone the new tariffs as both teams focus on reducing existing tariffs to diffuse tensions, instead of completely removing tariffs on certain products, Bloomberg News reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Dec. 9 that he does not expect the Dec. 15 round of tariffs to be implemented but hoped for some "movement" by Beijing toward a pact. China recently said it was planning to exempt certain imports of U.S. products, including soybeans and pork, from retaliatory tariffs, which Perdue said might "encourage" Trump not to go through with new tariffs.

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said there is still no definitive decision on the looming tariffs, which remain "on the table," CNBC reported.