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Trump to sign first phase of US-China trade deal on 15 January, Beijing yet to confirm

The deal sees US suspending plans for new tariffs on $160 billion of Chinese imports while China agrees to increase its purchases of American agricultural products.

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Johannesburg: U.S. President Donald Trump said he will sign the first phase of a trade deal with China on 15 January, sealing an agreement that sees the Asian nation raising purchases of American farm goods in exchange for lower tariffs on some of its products. The date has yet to be confirmed by the Chinese side.

“The ceremony will take place at the White House,” Trump said on his Twitter account Tuesday, adding he will be going to Beijing, where talks will begin on the second phase of the deal.

The Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing did not reply for faxes seeking confirmation on the date and have yet to release any statement about the signing. Mofcom announced on Monday that it will suspend its weekly press conference this Thursday. MOFA will hold its regular briefing at 3 pm today.

Despite the lack of clarity on the signing date, Beijing is still indicating it also wants the deal. A commentary on the front page of People’s Daily on Tuesday said, “it is every one’s wish that China and the U.S. will sign the phase one agreement.”

The deal, announced Dec. 13, sees the U.S. suspending plans for new tariffs on $160 billion of Chinese imports including smart-phones and toys and reducing some existing levies. China agreed to increase its purchases of American agricultural products and has made new commitments on intellectual property protections, forced technology transfers by U.S. companies and currency practices. The move at least temporarily calms fears of an escalating trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

The precise terms of the 86-page agreement have not been revealed. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Dec. 13 he expected to sign the accord together with his Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier Liu He, in early January in Washington, and that it would be released publicly then. – Bloomberg

Also read: Why US-China trade war truce will not end protectionist impulse


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