With Trade Talks Looming, U.S. and China Move to Relax Tensions

WASHINGTON — The trade war between the United States and China showed signs of easing on Thursday, as China reportedly made its first large purchase in months of American soybeans after President Trump agreed to briefly delay his next round of tariffs.

A trade deal between the two sides is not imminent, and deep divisions remain. But after weeks of escalating tariffs that have pushed the bilateral relationship to its rockiest point in decades, both countries appeared eager this week to try to calm tensions before a new round of talks next month.

Mr. Trump said on Thursday that China would resume purchases of American farm goods, and Beijing confirmed that Chinese companies were making inquiries about buying products including pork and soybeans.

The president’s announcement, made on Twitter on Thursday morning, followed a day of cooling tensions, in which China announced that it would grant some limited exemptions to its tariffs for American products, and Mr. Trump responded by promising to delay his next tariff increase by two weeks to Oct. 15.

“It is expected that China will be buying large amounts of our agricultural products!” the president said in his announcement.

Jim Sutter, the chief executive of the U.S. Soybean Export Council, said he learned on Thursday that China had made a large soybean purchase. Mr. Sutter said that between 12 and 20 cargo ships containing 600,000 to 1 million metric tons of soybeans were being purchased from export terminals in the Pacific Northwest for October shipments to China.

“We’re quite happy to see this apparent thaw in the relationship,” Mr. Sutter said. “We wish we could get trade back to normal.”

China’s Ministry of Commerce said some Chinese companies were beginning to make inquiries about resuming purchases of American agricultural products. “Soybeans and pork are all within the scope of inquiry,” said Gao Feng,

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