Dec 13, 2019: China announced Friday a “phase one” trade deal with the United States that includes a progressive rollback of tariffs and the protection of intellectual property rights, but the two sides have yet to sign the agreement.
The announcement came a day after President Donald Trump tweeted that the world's two biggest economies were very close to a “BIG DEAL” in their protracted trade dispute.
Chinese vice commerce minister Wang Shouwen told reporters Washington agreed to a “phasing out” of tariffs on Chinese goods, without offering details.
Vice finance minister Liao Min said China would not introduce tariffs on US products that had been planned as retaliation for fresh US duties on Chinese products on Sunday.
He did not offer details on whether China would roll back existing tariffs on US goods.
Wang said the agreement includes strengthening the protection of intellectual property rights, expanding market access and safeguarding the rights of foreign companies in China — issues at the heart of US complaints about Beijing's restrictive economic policies.
US media reports said China would spend $50 billion on US farm goods — a major Trump request — but Chinese officials did not provide any figures at a press briefing in Beijing.
“The two countries have agreed on the text of a phase one trade and economic deal,” Wang said at the news conference.
“Both parties agree that in the next step, they will complete the necessary procedures for legal review and translation as soon as possible, and negotiate the specific arrangements for the formal signing of the agreement.
“After the signing of the agreement, it is hoped that both sides will abide by the agreement, work hard to implement the relevant contents of the first phase of the agreement.”
– Protecting Chinese farmers –
China said the partial deal would help expand its own agricultural exports to the US — including cooked poultry, catfish products, pears and fresh dates.
“Some of these problems have been talked about for more than ten years, and this time there has been a substantive breakthrough,” said Han Jun, vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs.
Any agreement to increase imports of US agricultural produce would be carried out in a way that will not harm Chinese farmers, he said.
US businesses have also complained about state subsidies and lack of equal treatment in China, issues that are not addressed in the “phase one” deal.
Although Trump tweeted Friday that negotiations on a “phase two” deal will start “immediately,” the Chinese side opted to tread more cautiously.
“As for consultation in the next phase, it will depend on the implementation of the phase one agreement,” Liao said.
The agreement was also in line with China's goal to further open up its economy and move towards more high-tech production, instead of remaining the low-cost factory of the world, Liao said.