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US signs 'historic' trade deal with China

By Lalit K Jha
Last updated on: January 16, 2020 09:08 IST
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The first phase of the trade deal includes IP protection and enforcement, ending forced technology transfer, dramatic expansion of American agriculture, removing barriers to American financial services, ending currency manipulation, rebalancing the US-China trade relationship and effective dispute resolution.

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IMAGE: US President Donald Trump with China's Vice Premier Liu He (L).  Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The US on Wednesday signed the first phase of a trade deal with China, which President Donald Trump described as historic, concluding more than a year of tough negotiations including several months of suspension of talks between the two largest economies of the world.

The first phase of the trade deal includes Intellection Property (IP) protection and enforcement, ending forced technology transfer, dramatic expansion of American agriculture, removing barriers to American financial services, ending currency manipulation, rebalancing the US-China trade relationship and effective dispute resolution.

 

The agreement was signed by President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, Politburo Member and Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China.

In his remarks, Trump called the trade agreement signing "a momentous step... to a future of fair and reciprocal trade."

The two countries are "writing the wrongs of the past," the US President said, adding that he would soon visit China and thanked his Chinese counterpart for this deal.

"I'll be going over to China in the not-too-distant future to reciprocate," he said.

This is a transformative deal that will bring great benefits for the two countries, Trump said, hoping that this will even lead to a peaceful world.

Trump said that China has made substantial and enforceable commitment to protecting American ideas.

At the same time, he said, punitive tariffs on China would remain in place till the time the second phase of the trade deal is agreed.

Describing this as the start of new chapter in US-China relations, Vice President Mike Pence quoted an ancient Chinese proverb: "let today be the beginning of a brighter future... more prosperous" for both the American and Chinese people.

WATCH: Donald Trump, Liu He sign phase one of US-China trade deal

The agreement was signed in front of Mike Pence, several of his Cabinet Colleagues including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and top officials.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kessinger, who is considered to be the architect of the modern US-China relations, was present on the occasion.

Who's Who of the American corporate world including Master Card CEO Ajay Banga and Sanjay Mehrotra from Micron were also present in the East Room of the White House during the signing ceremony.

"This historic agreement includes a major commitment by China to make significant reforms in a wide range of critical areas and to make substantial additional purchases of American goods and services in the coming years," the White House said.

This agreement is strengthened by a strong dispute resolution system that ensures prompt and effective implementation and enforcement of this historic deal, it said.

Congressman Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee described this as a historic day for American workers and businesses.

"President Trump, Trade Ambassador Lighthizer and Secretary Mnuchin are achieving what no White House has before them: a strong, real and enforceable commitment from China to end unfair trade practices and level the playing field for American workers, manufacturers, farmers, and businesses," he said.

"I hope this proves to be a turning point in our economic relationship with China, but I've seen enough history to be clear-eyed," Senator Chuck Grassley said.

"Not only must China follow through with its commitments in this phase one deal, but also work toward a comprehensive agreement that ends forced technology transfers, intellectual property theft and unfair restrictions on US goods, including agriculture. Only then will we know if China can be a reliable economic partner in the 21st century," Grassley said.

Former US Vice President Joe Biden, who is a leading Democratic presidential candidate, alleged that China is the big winner of Trump's "phase-one" trade deal with Beijing.

"True to form, Trump is getting precious little in return for the significant pain and uncertainty he has imposed on our economy, farmers, and workers," he said.

"The deal won't actually resolve the real issues at the heart of the dispute, including industrial subsidies, support for state-owned enterprises, cybertheft, and other predatory practices in trade and technology," Biden said.

The US Chamber of Commerce welcomed the signing and said: "we commend both governments for staying the course and taking this important step to rebuild trust and restore some stability in the world's most important commercial relationship".

"This deal provides much needed certainty to American businesses as they begin the new year," said US Chamber CEO Thomas Donohue.

The phase one agreement signals a rollback of the tit-for-tat tariff measures that have hurt American companies and consumers and includes important structural commitments from the Chinese, the chambers said.

China's commitments expand market access for American businesses in agriculture, manufacturing, and financial services; strengthen IP protection and enforcement; and address unfair technology transfer practices, it said.

Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, in a speech on the Senate floor, said Trump's "phase-one" trade deal with China is an extreme disappointment.

"He's conceding our leverage for vague, unenforceable "promises" China never intends to fulfil," he said.

"Based on what we know of this so called 'Phase One' deal, China hasn't agreed to substantively do anything new, and now it seems that the Trump tariffs will remain in place even after the deal is signed," Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington
Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Nandita Mallik© Copyright 2020 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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