Beijing announced Saturday that US imports that can be used in China's fight against a deadly new virus will be exempted from retaliatory tariffs imposed in the trade war. The decision comes as China is scrambling to contain the spread of the virus which has overwhelmed hospitals and caused shortages of medical supplies in the worst affected city, Wuhan.
The US and China have been engaged in a bruising trade conflict for around two years, although both sides came to a ceasefire last month with Beijing agreeing to buy a further $200 billion of US products in a partial trade deal. But tit-for-tat levies remain on goods worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
On Saturday, China announced that it would "implement more preferential import tariff measures from January to March 2020, to step up support for prevention and control of the (ongoing) epidemic".
Authorities added that "tariffs that have been levied (on goods used in the fight against the virus) can be refunded." Beijing said it would relax its rules on tariff exemptions, and this would extend to goods such as disinfectants, protective supplies and emergency command vehicles.
The new coronavirus has killed more than 250 people and infected nearly 12,000 across the country.