President Donald Trump hosted a signing of the phase one trade deal with China on Wednesday, marking a significant milestone in pressuring China for fairer trade relations with the United States.
“Today we take a momentous step,” Trump said, claiming the deal helped “right the wrongs of the past.”
H.E. Vice Premier Liu He represented China in the deal signing ceremony that was held on the East Room of the White House.
The Vice Premier read a statement from President Xi in Chinese, thanking President Trump for working out a deal that he called “good for the U.S. and China and the world,” according to a translator.
Xi also said in the statement that he looked forward to phase two of the deal, which would make relations between the two countries even better.
“China is prepared to work with the US in that direction,” the statement read.
Trump did not hedge his criticism of past trade with China, calling it “easy pickings.”
“It’s probably the biggest reason I ran for president,” he said. “Unlike others before me, I kept my promise.”
Over a dozen senators, most of them from farm states, joined the ceremony with Chinese and American flags in the background, as well as a significant showing from members of Trump’s cabinet.
Prominent business and Wall Street figures also attended the packed event, as well as business advocates such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable.
Trump singled out executives from eBay, Ford, Citibank, Honeywell, Boeing, UPS, General Electric, News Corp, and Jeep, in the audience, joking with some of them about how the deal would help their businesses.
“This is the biggest deal that anyone has ever seen,” Trump said. “It’s all a very, very beautiful game of chess, or game of poker, or, I can’t use the word checkers, because it’s far greater than any checker game that I’ve ever seen, but it’s a very beautiful mosaic.”
He denied that the deal would take tariffs off, ridiculing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for opposing it.
The full details of the agreement have not been released to the public.
Trump said he would leave tariffs on China until they could reach a phase two agreement, for which negotiations would begin “immediately.”
The president emphasized that China would implement strong enforcement mechanisms to make trade easier and fairer with China.
Trump urged American companies to be “strong” and resist transferring their technology with China, noting that they would have legal protection in the future.
Trump joked with several of the senators, acknowledging their patience in the negotiating process. The historic agreement addresses Intellectual Property Protection and Enforcement, Ending Forced Technology Transfer, removes barriers to American Financial Services, according to the White House as well as ending Currency Manipulation and rebalancing the U.S.-China trade.
Trump thanked Chinese Leader Xi Jinping, whom he called “a friend” and said he would be traveling to China soon. Trump thanked U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for all his hard work on the deal as well as the USMCA trade deal as well as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his son in law Jared Kushner. Mnuchin and Lighthizer stood to the left of the president as he spoke.
Trump celebrated the rise of the stock market, noting another record set in the morning before the ceremony.
Trump recalled that when he campaigned for president, then-Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, now the U.S. ambassador with China helped coordinate negotiations with Xi Jinping. The president also praised trade hawk Peter Navarro, acknowledging that he was “a little different” but was helpful for the process.
Trump joked that some of the members of Congress might be called away to vote on the “impeachment hoax,” which he dismissed.
Senior Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow was also present for the event, as was television host Lou Dobbs, also a trade hawk.
Trump noted that Kushner told him that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger expressed amazement that the president was able to make a deal with China.