Dec. 6 (UPI) -- The Chinese government said Friday it will exempt U.S.-made soybeans and pork from a list of punitive tariffs, a sign of potential progress in a trade conflict that's lasted now for more than a year.
Beijing's Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council said the exemptions are a result of "applications submitted by related enterprises." China said it would make the exemptions based on "domestic needs."
The move comes ahead of a new round of U.S. tariffs on Dec. 15 that will impose a 15 percent tax on $160 billion worth of certain Chinese products shipped to the United States.
For more than a year, both nations have introduced tit-for-tat tariffs as they negotiate thorny trade issues. U.S. companies have long argued Beijing forces them to reveal technologies for access to the lucrative Chinese market.
Chinese tariffs for soybeans have so far greatly affected U.S. farmers, to the tune of billions of dollars. China, meanwhile, is facing a crisis in its pork market after losing a large swath of its pig population due to African swine fever.
The Chinese commerce ministry said last week it plans to increase pork imports by 40 percent, to 3 million tons. Commerce minister Gao Feng said tariffs should be reduced based on negotiations.
Both sides said last month they were near a tentative agreement on "phase one" of a trade deal and the Trump administration has been optimistic about the plan, which has yet to officially materialize.