Sat | Jan 18, 2020

US, China sign trade deal to simmer long-running tensions

Published:Wednesday | January 15, 2020 | 2:44 PM
President Donald Trump holds the signed a trade agreement with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump signed a trade agreement Wednesday with China that is expected to boost exports from United States farmers and manufacturers, protect American trade secrets and lower tensions in a long-running dispute between the world’s two biggest economies.

Trump said during a White House ceremony that the deal is “righting the wrongs of the past.”

He promoted the signing as a way of delivering economic justice for American workers and said, “We mark a sea change in international trade” with the signing.

The agreement is being described as “phase one” of a larger negotiation focusing on tensions in the U.S.-China trade relationship. Chinese leader Xi Jinping said in a letter to Trump that the first phase was “good for China, the US and for the whole world.”

The letter was read by Beijing’s chief negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He.

But this agreement left unresolved many of the complaints — notably, the way the Chinese government subsidises its companies — voiced by the Trump administration when it started the trade war by imposing tariffs on Chinese imports in July 2018.

While the deal stops short of many changes the president has sought from China, it leaves in place tariffs on about $360 billion in Chinese imports, leverage the administration hopes will generate future concessions.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said work on follow-up negotiations will hinge on how China fulfils the commitments it made in the initial phase.

The agreement is intended to ease some US economic sanctions on China while Beijing would step up purchases of American farm products and other goods.

Trump cited beef, pork, poultry, seafood, rice and dairy products as examples.

The deal would lower tensions in a trade dispute that has slowed global growth, hurt American manufacturers and weighed on the Chinese economy. Trump said easing trade tensions was critical.

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