White House Expects Phase One China Trade Deal to Be Signed in January

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

The White House on Friday said it expects the new phase one trade deal with China would be finished in the first week of January 2020, in a briefing with reporters detailing the deal.

White House senior advisor Larry Kudlow said the deal would be signed by Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and the Chinese vice premiere in a few weeks at the administerial level, after all of the documents were completed. A senior administration official told reporters that the they expected that date to be in the first week of 2020.

Kudlow praised the deal as a “very important first step” representing real progress with China that covered “all of the key chapters.”

He ticked off a list of achievements including tariff adjustments, Chinese commitments to purchase American goods, financial service reform, currency reform, intellectual property rights, and reform of the Chinese forced transfer of technology.

A senior administration official told reporters that China agreed to increase its American goods and services purchases by at least $200 billion in the next two years, with an average of $40-$50 billion in agricultural products.

“We are very comfortable that our farmers and ranchers and growers can meet those numbers,” the official said.

The official confirmed that the deal would include a strong enforcement mechanism that would ensure that the commitments from China would take place. He said:

If we decide that China has violated a provision of the agreement, we can take responsive action and/or suspend concessions under the agreement. It could take the form of tariffs but we have the ability to take that action if they’re not abiding by their commitments.

Trump agreed not to level additional tariffs scheduled for December 15 and even cut tariffs leveled in September in half. The original 25 percent tariff remains in place as the president pursues phase two of the trade deal with China.

“There are other issues that we need to address moving forward and we’re very much committed to doing that,” the official said, assuring that the 25 percent tariff would remain.

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