China, US to sign phase one trade agreement next week

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BEIJING
China will sign the phase one economic and trade agreement with the United States next week in Washington, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said Thursday. At the invitation of the U.S. side, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chief of the Chinese side of the China-U.S. comprehensive economic dialogue, will lead a delegation to visit Washington from January 13 to 15, MOC spokesperson Gao Feng told a regular press conference.
The two sides are in close contact for the arrangements of the signing of the agreement, Gao added. Washington postponed planned tariff increases following the announcement of the “Phase 1” deal in October. But earlier punitive duties imposed by both sides on billions of dollars of each other’s goods stayed in place, dampening global trade and threatening to chill economic growth. Liu will lead a delegation to Washington from Monday through Wednesday, said ministry spokesman Gao Feng.
Under the “Phase 1” deal, Beijing agreed to buy more American farm goods and Washington’s chief negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, said it would make changes to respond to complaints about its industrial policies.
Details have yet to be announced and Chinese officials have yet to confirm any regulatory changes or the size of purchases of American soybeans and other exports.
Both sides have soothed financial market jitters by announcing conciliatory steps including postponing planned tariff hikes. Beijing also has resumed purchases of soybeans, the biggest American export to China, and pork.
Washington, Europe, Japan and other trading partners complain Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology. Washington is pressing China to roll back plans for state-led creation of global competitors in robotics and other industries that its trading partners say violate its market-opening commitments.
President Donald Trump announced last month he would sign the “Phase 1” agreement Jan. 15 and travel to Beijing after that to start the second stage of talks. Trump hailed the interim agreement as a step toward ending the tariff war, but Beijing has been more measured in its public statements.
Economists say concluding a final settlement could take years. Potential hurdles include Chinese insistence that US tariff hikes be canceled once an agreement takes effect. The Trump administration says some must remain in place to ensure Beijing carries out any promises it makes.

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