COVID-19

As the coronavirus epidemic grows, China prepares to cut tariffs

Kimberly Adams Feb 6, 2020
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A woman wears a protective mask as she waits on an empty subway platform during the evening rush hour on Feb. 3 in Beijing. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
COVID-19

As the coronavirus epidemic grows, China prepares to cut tariffs

Kimberly Adams Feb 6, 2020
A woman wears a protective mask as she waits on an empty subway platform during the evening rush hour on Feb. 3 in Beijing. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

China took steps Thursday to further deescalate the trade war. Its government announced it would reduce tariffs on more than 17,000 U.S. products as part of the phase one trade deal.

These tariff cuts will kick in Friday, the same day American tariffs on some Chinese products are set to be reduced. This is an incremental step in the implementation of the phase one deal but context is key: This move comes as China grapples with the continuing fallout from coronavirus.

The human cost of the outbreak is growing; hundreds of people have died from the virus and and tens of thousands are sick.

Wendong Zhang, an economics professor at Iowa State University, said the risk that China’s economy might not grow as fast this year has markets questioning whether the virus will specifically impact China’s ability to implement the U.S.-China phase one deal. He said that’s part of the reason China is reducing tariffs.

“This step brings in some certainty and shows China’s willingness to continue to carry out the promises in the phase one deal,” Zhang said.

The White House has expressed concern China might need to delay some parts of the deal, like promised purchases of U.S. agricultural products.

Joshua Meltzer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said those purchases had people scratching their heads even before the virus outbreak.

“Effectively, the deal requires China to double purchases, and it’s not clear how this is going to be done,” Meltzer said.

Not just because there may not be enough market demand in China but also because U.S. farmers need to ramp up production.

“That depends on not just the investments they make and in their seed and fertilizer and all those things, but the vagaries of the weather,” said Matt Slaughter, dean of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Slaughter said whether China can stay on track with the phase one deal objectives will depend on the ultimate human and economic cost of the coronavirus.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the latest on the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

As of now, those $600-a-week payments will stop at the end of July. For many, unemployment payments have been a lifeline, but one that is about to end, if nothing changes. The debate over whether or not to extend these benefits continues among lawmakers.

With a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, are restaurants and bars shutting back down?

The latest jobs report shows that 4.8 million Americans went back to work in June. More than 30% of those job gains were from bars and restaurants. But those industries are in trouble again. For example, because of the steep rise in COVID-19 cases in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, increased restrictions on restaurant capacities and closed bars. It’s created a logistical nightmare.

Which businesses got Paycheck Protection Program loans?

The numbers are in — well, at least in part. The federal government has released the names of companies that received loans of $150,000 or more through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Some of the companies people are surprised got loans include Kanye West’s fashion line, Yeezy, TGI Fridays and P.F. Chang’s. The companies you might not recognize, particularly some smaller businesses, were able to hire back staff or partially reopen thanks to the loans.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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