Unipec, the trading arm of the state-run Chinese oil corporation Sinopec, has suspended crude oil imports from the US due to growing trade tensions between the two countries, Reuters cited sources familiar with the situation as saying Friday.
It is still unclear how long the suspension will last, but according to one source, Unipec has not registered new orders for US oil supplies at least until October.
The move comes as Chinese customers start to reduce purchases of US oil in order to avoid a possible import tariff that Beijing threatens to slap on Washington amid the escalating US-Chinese trade spat.
In late July, World Trade Organization (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevedo warned that the ongoing trade row between the US and China may eventually ride roughshod over the world economy.
"The worst-case scenario for the global economy, for the consumer, for everyone on the surface of the Earth, is to have no rules, to have the law of the jungle. […] Investors are going to pull back, the economy is going to lose steam and over time millions of jobs will be lost," Azevedo stressed.
The remarks came after US President Donald Trump accused China of staging a "vicious" attack on US farmers, referring to new tariffs that Beijing slapped on a number of American farm products, such as soy beans, corn, wheat, cotton, rice, beef, pork, poultry, fish, dairy, nuts and vegetables.
In an earlier round of tariffs announced in June and actualized on July 6, the US announced 25 percent duties on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, to which Beijing China responded by imposing restrictions for the same amount of US imports.
When imposing import tariffs, Trump announced that the EU, Canada and Mexico, as well as a few other countries, would be granted exemptions from the restrictions, but revoked the statement after they refused to negotiate their policies with Washington.