China Says Trade Deal Will Be Signed Next Week

BEIJING (AFP) — China said Thursday that Vice Premier Liu He will go to Washington next week to sign the phase one deal with the United States that has reduced trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies.

The signing will cap a nearly two-year spat that threatened to throttle the global economy as the two countries exchanged tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods.

Liu, China’s top negotiator in the trade conflict, will be in Washington from Monday to Wednesday to sign the deal, the commerce ministry said.

The Great Wall of China

President Trump announced last week that the two countries would sign the mini agreement — the first part of a wider pact between the two — on Jan. 15, but Beijing had yet to confirm the trip.

“At the invitation of the U.S., Liu He will be leading a delegation to Washington from Jan. 13 to Jan. 15 to sign the phase one deal,” commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng said at a weekly news briefing.

“Both parties are in close communication regarding the detailed arrangement of the signing,” Gao said, without providing more details.

U.S. and Chinese officials have said the agreement includes protections for intellectual property, food and farm goods, financial services and foreign exchange, and a provision for dispute resolution.

Trump also canceled plans to impose tariffs on $160 billion in Chinese merchandise in mid-December — including popular consumer items such as mobile phones — but punishing tariffs remain on about $250 billion worth of goods, including machinery and many electronic items.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has said China committed to a minimum of $200 billion in increased purchases over the next two years from U.S. manufacturers, farmers, energy producers and service providers.

Gao refused to confirm that figure at Thursday’s news conference.

Trump said last week that he would travel to Beijing for negotiations on the next part of the wider deal “at a later date,” but Gao said he had “no further information on phase two” of the negotiations.

Observers say the trade war, which has had ramifications for other economies globally, may have ushered in a long-term decoupling of trade relations between the two economic powerhouses.

The truce also partially removes a thorn in the side of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has to deal with a slowing economy and pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

© Agence France-Presse

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