Donald Trump says he will sign first phase of US-China trade deal

US president Donald Trump has said he will sign the first phase of a long-awaited trade deal with China on 15 January, ending a bruising tariff war between the world’s two biggest economies.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump said “high level representatives of China” would attend an official ceremony at the White House, adding he would also be travelling to Beijing for talks on the second phase of the deal.

“I will be signing our very large and comprehensive Phase One Trade Deal with China on January 15,” he said in the tweet.

Donald J. Trump

I will be signing our very large and comprehensive Phase One Trade Deal with China on January 15. The ceremony will take place at the White House. High level representatives of China will be present. At a later date I will be going to Beijing where talks will begin on Phase Two!

December 31, 2019

The deal, which was announced on 13 December, will see the suspension of US plans for new tariffs on $160bn (£121bn) of Chinese imports of items such as smartphones and toys. In return, China will agree to buy more US farming products and make fresh commitments to improve intellectual property protections. The full terms of the 86-page agreement have not been revealed.

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer had said he expected to sign the deal with his Chinese counterpart, vice-premier Liu He, and that the full details of the accord would be released publicly then.

The prospect of an agreement has sent stock markets to record levels over the festive period and prompted the International Monetary Fund to say that a deal easing US-China trade tensions could persuade its officials to revise up forecasts for global growth in 2020.

US stocks fell at the opening of trading as a Wall Street rally fizzled out in the final days of the decade, after growing trade optimism and a brightening global outlook put the S&P 500 on track for its best year since 2013.

The US-China dispute had weighed on the world economy. Both nations have imposed tariffs on one another’s goods, depressing global trade volumes and leading to weaker levels of business investment. Over the course of the trade war, the US has imposed tariffs – a tax paid by importers – on about $360bn worth of Chinese goods including electronics, clothing and toys. Beijing has hit back with tariffs on more than $110bn of US products including soya beans and aircraft.

The rapprochement also comes after Beijing announced a cut in tariffs on more than 850 goods from 1 January in order to boost its flagging economy, including cuts on duties on products ranging from frozen pork to semiconductors.

Experts have questioned how much the agreement resolves long-running tensions between the two countries. Shehzad Qazi, of the economic observatory China Beige Book, said: “The deal will ultimately be weighed in terms of how much it does to address structural issues like intellectual property and market access.

“The push for financial decoupling and, of course, the larger technological competition are also all here to stay. Trump’s trade war may have been the opening salvo of a long drawn conflict.”


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