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Trade War

US Treasury secretary pushes for easing China tariffs

Mnuchin's proposal reportedly at odds with hawkish Lighthizer

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is reportedly pushing to lift some or all tariffs against China.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. is considering scaling back its tariffs on China, looking to draw a concession from Beijing in their ongoing trade war and restore confidence in financial markets.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, known for a more conciliatory stance on China, has proposed lifting all or some of these tariffs at several strategy meetings, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. But hawks like U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are believed to oppose the idea.

Mnuchin reportedly has not proposed the idea directly to U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped as much as 260 points during Thursday's trading following the report, led by a rise in Boeing and Caterpillar -- both companies that draw a large portion of their revenue from China.

Since July, Washington has imposed tariffs of 10% to 25% on a total of $250 billion in products from China. Lighthizer, the Trump administration's point person on China trade talks, holds that these duties are the necessary pressure to produce a concession from Beijing.

The U.S. and China are arranging a high-level meeting at the end of January to discuss structural economic issues, such as violations of intellectual property and inappropriate industrial subsidies. If they fail to reach an agreement by March 1, Washington plans to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25% from 10%.

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