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China scraps some US tariffs ahead of trade talks

A woman works on socks that will be exported to the US at a factory in Huaibei in China's eastern Anhui province on August 7, 2018. Image copyright Getty Images

China has released a list of 16 US imports that will be exempted from tariffs in the ongoing trade war between the world's two largest economies.

They include anti-cancer drugs and animal feed.

But with more than 5,000 products on it, the list of goods that are still subject to extra taxes is much longer.

Nevertheless, some analysts view the move as a friendly signal by China ahead of talks with the US.

On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump praised the decision, saying the "gesture" could help upcoming trade talks.

Preliminary meetings are set to take place later this month in Washington before US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and trade representative Robert Lighthizer meet China's vice premier Liu He in October.

"They made a couple of moves last night that were pretty good," Mr Trump said. "I think they did the right thing."

Significant US exports to China, like pork, soybeans and American-made cars, are among the goods that will still be hit by the hefty taxes.

And ING's China economist Iris Pang noted that the exemptions will help China's own economy.

"There are still many uncertainties in the coming trade talks," she wrote in a note. "An exemption list of just 16 items will not change China's stance."

Over the past year, the world's two largest economies have imposed tariffs on billions of dollars worth of one another's goods.

Donald Trump has long accused China of unfair trading practices and intellectual property theft, while in China, there is a perception that the US is trying to stymie its growth.

Mr Trump's tariffs policy aims to encourage consumers to buy American by making imported goods more expensive.

So far, the US has imposed tariffs on more than $360bn (£296bn) of Chinese goods, and China has retaliated with tariffs on more than $110bn of US products.

Washington delivered three rounds of tariffs last year, and a fourth one in September. The latest round targeted Chinese imports, from meat to musical instruments, with a 15% duty.

Beijing has hit back with tariffs ranging from 5% to 25% on US goods.

The US has also granted exemptions to the tariffs, including exempting items like medical equipment and parts.

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