U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese officials said Friday that they have agreed to the first phase of a trade deal that included cutting U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.
Trump said on Twitter that China and the U.S have agreed to a very large part of what he called a “Phase One” deal.
We have agreed to a very large Phase One Deal with China. They have agreed to many structural changes and massive purchases of Agricultural Product, Energy, and Manufactured Goods, plus much more. The 25% Tariffs will remain as is, with 7 1/2% put on much of the remainder….
The U.S. will modify its tariffs on Chinese goods in a “significant way,” while China would buy substantially more U.S. goods and services, the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office said on Friday.
Under the agreement, Washington will maintain 25 per cent tariffs on about $250 billion US of Chinese imports, and reduce to around 7.5 per cent tariffs imposed on $120 billion of other Chinese imports, USTR said in a statement.
China has also agreed to suspend retaliatory tariffs, targeting goods ranging from corn and wheat to U.S.-made vehicles and auto parts, that were due to take effect Sunday.
The trade agreement required structural reforms to China’s economic and trade regime in areas of intellectual property, technology transfer, agriculture, financial services, currency and foreign exchange. The deal also includes a “strong dispute resolution system,” USTR said. It offered no further details on any of the reforms or a timeline for their implementation.
The deal will provide more protection for foreign companies in China, and Chinese companies in the United States, Chinese officials said.
The two countries have achieved major progress in their trade negotiations, agreeing on the text of that part of the deal, Beijing officials said.
China will also import more U.S. wheat and corn after the deal, China’s vice agricultural minister said.
However, they offered no specific details on the amount of U.S. agricultural goods Beijing had agreed to buy, a key sticking point of the lengthy deal negotiations.
The U.S. has been pushing for Beijing to commit to buy $50 billion US in agricultural products in 2020, a figure that Chinese officials have previously balked at.
Asked specifically about the $50 billion figure, officials in Beijing said details on value will be disclosed later.
China has not been a major buyer of U.S. corn, wheat or rice in the past — though in recent years it has been the top third or fourth buyer of one particular variety of wheat, U.S. spring wheat used for blending. China was a top five buyer of U.S. corn from 2011 to 2014 but has not been a major buyer since.
Some U.S. business groups hailed the deal as an end to uncertainty that’s slowed global growth; critics questioned whether the trade war had been worth the job losses and drop in sales.
The Business Roundtable, a group of chief executives of the largest U.S. companies, said “This de-escalation in trade tensions is a positive step toward resolving important trade and investment issues between our two nations.”
Chris Murphy, a Democratic senator from Connecticut, called it a “total capitulation,” saying China had made “zero hard commitments to structural reform.”
U.S. markets have gyrated on rumours and leaks about the trade deal in recent months, but were muted on Friday on news it had been agreed.