Reports that the Chinese government is
considering reducing a tariff on car imports have improved the
chances that its burgeoning trade war with the United States
will dissipate before new tariffs on industrial minerals come
into place early in March 2019.
Since late September 2018, the US
government has enforced a 10% tariff on several industrial
mineral products, including pigments such as titanium dioxide,
refractory finished products, lithium and ceramic minerals
These tariffs were initially
planned to rise to 25% in January 2019. But trade
relations between the US and China thawed at a post-G20 summit
held in Buenos Aires where US President Donald Trump and
Chinese leader Xi Jinping met for the first time since the
country's initial imposition of steel tariffs nine months
After the summit in Argentina, which ended
on December 1, Trump announced that he had agreed with Xi to
delay new the scheduled increase.
The tariff increase to 25% from 10% was
delayed for 90 days. The US said China will consequently start
to buy a "very substantial" volume of agricultural and
But after a 90-day period "if the parties
are unable to reach an agreement, the 10% tariffs will be
raised to 25%," the White House warned.
The news on December 10 that China would
ease off on on its tariffs on car imports from the US marks a
cooling in the trade war, which has been waged since March 2018
when Trump announced tariffs on all steel and aluminium imports
into the US.
China fired back in June, imposing
aggressive duties on imports of US agricultural good, prompting
the US to respond with tariffs on technological goods worth
around $50 billion per year, including lithium primary cells.
The dispute was accelerated further in
July when the US proposed a 10% tariff on a list of industrial
mineral and chemical imports worth some $200 billion. It later
increased this proposal to 25% when relations cooled
The proposed tariffs prompted widespread
objections by US importers and consumers of industrial
When the tariffs were introduced in
September, buyers were relieved that they were initially
imposed at 10%.
Several minerals have also been left of
the list - these include the refractory minerals graphite, magnesia, alumina
and silicon carbide, on which the US steel industry is
dependent. The tariffs also did not affect
antimony and rare earths, materials of which China is the only
And the US oil and gas
industry was relieved to see barite, a crucial mineral, left
off the list.
importers and consumers of pigments, talcs and finished
refractory products will now hope that the talks with China
progress further before the new March deadline.