U.S. and China Reach Initial Trade Deal


BEIJING — The United States and China have agreed to an initial trade deal that will result in a reduction of tariffs and increased purchases of American farm goods, marking a significant de-escalation in the 19-month battle that has rattled the world economy.

“We have agreed to a very large Phase One Deal with China,” President Trump said in a tweet. “They have agreed to many structural changes and massive purchases of Agricultural Product, Energy, and Manufactured Goods, plus much more.”

Mr. Trump said that a 25 percent tariff that the United States has placed on $250 billion of Chinese products will remain in effect, but a 15 percent tariff he put on $120 of products in September will be cut in half, to 7.5 percent.

“A lot of big things are covered,” the president said during an event at the White House with the president of Paraguay. “The farmers are going to have to go out and buy much larger tractors” because business will boom.

Wang Shouwen, China’s vice commerce minister, said at a news conference in Beijing that the two sides had made “significant progress” and that the agreement would result in the United States removing some of the tariffs it has placed on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods. Those tariffs would come off “phase by phase” and the United States would agree to exempt more Chinese products from being taxed, he said.

“This will create better conditions for China and the United States to strengthen cooperation,” Mr. Wang said.

The agreement includes a commitment by Beijing to buy more American agriculture products and to strengthen laws protecting foreign companies operating in China, as well as beefing up intellectual property rules and providing more transparency around currency movements. Mr. Wang said both sides have agreed to complete legal reviews as quickly as possible and that an official signing was still being worked out.

Some advisers to the White House said China had agreed to buy $50 billion worth of American farm products next year but China has so far not confirmed that figure and the United States trade representative did not provide an official figure in its statement.

“The Phase One agreement also includes a commitment by China that it will make substantial additional purchases of U.S. goods and services in the coming years,” U.S.T.R. said on Friday.

As described, the agreement does not address American concerns about China’s industrial subsidies and state-owned enterprises. There were no details on the currency provisions in the pact or how China will go about ensuring protections of American intellectual property. And there information about China’s plans to roll back its tariffs was murky.

Chinese officials on Friday said that imports of American agriculture products would increase by a “considerable margin” to meet China’s needs for goods like soybean and pork.

The deal came as a relief of investors, who have been haunted by the steady drumbeat of tariffs that have depressed business sentiment and stirred economic uncertainty. The S&P 500 was up slightly in early-morning trading.

An agreement will also give Mr. Trump another trade win that he can tout heading into his re-election campaign and as Congress forges ahead with his impeachment. The agreement came on the same week that the administration agreed with House Democrats to revise the terms of a trade pact with Canada and Mexico.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.



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