US crude oil shipments going to China for first time since September

Shipments of U.S. crude oil are heading towards China for the first time since late September, indicating the tense trade relationship between the two countries could potentially be thawing.

Three cargoes of U.S. crude oil left Texas last month and are scheduled to arrive in China in a few weeks, sources told Reuters.

Chinese buyers had been avoiding U.S. oil due to the trade war which saw both countries impose hundreds of millions of dollars in tariffs on each other's exports.

“It looks like China has resumed purchasing U.S. crude,” a shipbroking source told Reuters.

China earlier this month vowed to purchase a "substantial amount" of American goods and services following three days of discussions between Beijing and Washington.

The meeting was was the first since President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed on Dec. 1 to halt implementation of new tariffs for 90 days as they seek to reach an agreement to deescalate the trade war.

One expert told Reuters that the shipments of crude oil show China is following through on the pledge.

“It’s a follow through of statements by the Chinese government they would indeed begin purchasing commodities from the United States again,” Reid I’Anson, an energy economist, told the news service.

The White House has said that if China and the U.S. do not reach a deal after this stalemate, existing 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports will be increased to 25 percent.

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