Sunday Tariffs Canceled as Trump Unveils China Trade Deal

WASHINGTON (CN) – Canceling tariffs set to snap into place on Sunday, President Donald Trump announced Friday the United States and China have formally agreed to a partial trade agreement that has been months in the making.

Stacked containers wait to be loaded on to trucks at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, Calif., on July 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

As a result of the pact, Trump said that the United States will hold off on imposing tariffs on roughly $160 billion in Chinese goods that otherwise would have come into place Sunday. The exact terms of the deal were not immediately available, but Trump said in a tweet the United States is also halving existing tariffs on another $112 billion in goods from China.

“We have agreed to a very large Phase One deal with China,” Trump tweeted. “They have agreed to many structural changes and massive purchases of agricultural product, energy and manufactured goods, plus much more.”

A 25% tariff on $250 billion in Chinese imports will remain in place as part of the agreement, according to a statement from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The agreement includes a dispute-resolution system and “ensures prompt and effective implementation and enforcement,” Lighthizer said.

“President Trump has focused on concluding a phase one agreement that achieves meaningful, fully enforceable structural changes and begins rebalancing the U.S.-China trade relationship,” Lighthizer added. “This unprecedented agreement accomplishes those very significant goals and would not have been possible without the president’s strong leadership.”

Trump and Chinese officials first announced the rough parameters of a trade deal during a White House meeting in October, though that version of the pact was not final. During the White House meeting, Trump said China had agreed to buy as much as $50 billion in agricultural products from the United States as part of the agreement.

It is not clear if China made the same commitment in the deal Trump announced Friday, and Chinese Deputy Finance Minister did not confirm the $50 billion figure when asked at a press briefing.

Lighthizer’s statement on the agreement says only that China has agreed to make  “substantial additional purchases of U.S. goods and services in the coming years.” 

As outlined in October, the “phase one” deal does not touch on issues such as forced technology transfers that have kept China and the United States locked in a bitter trade war since Trump took office.

Trump said in Friday’s tweet announcing the deal that the United States and China will begin negotiations on the second phase of the deal “immediately,” instead of pushing talks off until after the 2020 presidential election.

Despite Trump’s description of the agreement as an “amazing deal for all,” Democrats in Washington met news of the agreement with skepticism. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the deal appears to be more of the same from China.

“At first, President Trump seemed like the only president who would dare tackle this challenge,” Schumer said in a statement Friday. “But now, according to reports, he has sold out for a temporary and unreliable promise from China to purchase some soybeans. We’ve heard this song and dance from China before.”

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