Vietnam Ministry May Cut Some Tariffs on U.S. Agriculture

(Bloomberg) --

Under pressure from the U.S., Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance is proposing to reduce tariffs on some American agriculture products, from chicken to apples.

The government is working to alleviate U.S. concerns over Vietnam’s growing trade surplus. At the request of the U.S., Vietnam now is reviewing duties on some American products, with tariff cuts seen as a way to help Vietnam create a better trade balance with the U.S., according to a post on the finance ministry’s website.

The ministry proposes reducing tariffs on chicken to 18% from 20%; the U.S. is asking for the duties to be cut to 14.5% next year and eliminated in 2028, the ministry said. The finance ministry proposes cutting pork duties to 22% from 25%, and reducing the tariff on fresh apples and grapes to 8% in 2020 from 10%. Wheat duties could be cut to 3% next year from 5%.

The U.S. is requesting that duties on pork be cut to 18.9% next year and removed altogether in 2027. The U.S. also wants to see tariffs on apples, grapes and wheat abolished next year.

Vietnam’s trade surplus with the U.S. reached nearly $40 billion in 2018. The gap hit $46.3 billion in the first 10 months of 2019, up 39% year-on-year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

In May, the U.S. Treasury added Vietnam to a list of countries being monitored for possible currency manipulation. Asked in June if he wanted to impose tariffs on Vietnam, U.S. President Donald Trump described the country as “almost the single worst abuser of everybody.” On a visit to Hanoi last month, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urged Vietnam to reduce its trade surplus with the U.S.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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