US-China "phase one" trade deal to be signed on Jan 15: Trump

A partial new US-China trade agreement will be signed in the middle of next month, US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday (Dec 31), announcing that he will also then travel to China for continued talks.
December 31, 2019 | 22:54
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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media after participating in a video teleconference with members of the U.S. military at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., December 24, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

"I will be signing our very large and comprehensive Phase One Trade Deal with China on January 15," Trump tweeted moments before Wall Street was due to open.

"The ceremony will take place at the White House. High level representatives of China will be present."

Trump said he would then travel to Beijing to continue negotiations "at a later date."

Word of the deal, and the de-escalation of the trade conflict, has driven a Wall Street rally this month but US stocks were little changes at the open early on Tuesday.

The two sides earlier this month announced a "Phase One" deal in their nearly two-year trade confrontation, with Washington cancelling and reducing some tariffs in exchange for Chinese pledges to increase purchases of US exports and adopt trade reforms.

The text of the agreement has not yet been made public pending legal and translation reviews, US officials say, and details remain scant.

US and Chinese officials said the agreement includes protections for intellectual property, food and farm goods, financial services and foreign exchange, and a provision for dispute resolution.

Other apparent US-China agreements have evaporated before, but US officials have said this time both sides are really on the same page.

The two economic powers have been locked in a bruising trade war since the first half of 2018 that has roiled the global economy.

In 2017, before the US-China trade war was unleashed, the United States exported some US$130 billion in goods to the Asian giant.

Under the new deal, China has committed to a minimum of US$200 billion in increased purchases over the next two years from US manufacturers, farmers, energy producers and service providers, according to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

US officials announced the truce with much fanfare, but economists and trade experts call it largely a victory for Beijing.

Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said agreeing to remove tariffs amounted to "giving away much of our leverage, while kicking the can down the road on the most meaningful trade issues with China."

The truce also offers Chinese President Xi Jinping breathing space as he faces a slowing economy and political trouble in Hong Kong.

Washington's decision to back the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement and to criticise China's mass detention of mostly Muslim minorities had previously cast a shadow over the trade negotiations./.

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