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China’s economy czar going to Washington to sign trade deal

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China's economy czar going to Washington to sign trade deal

China's government says its economy czar will go to Washington next week to sign an interim trade agreement

January 9, 2020 at 8:32 am

2 min reading

BEIJING –
China's economic tsar will visit Washington next week to sign an interim trade agreement, the government said on Thursday.

Deputy Prime Minister Liu He, Beijing's chief envoy in negotiations with Washington during the tariff war, hoped to attend the signing, but the statement from the Ministry of Commerce was the first official confirmation.

Washington has postponed planned tariff increases after the announcement of the "Phase 1" deal in October. But previous punitive taxes imposed on both sides by billions of dollars of each other's goods remained in place, undermining global trade and threatening to impede economic growth.

Liu will lead a delegation to Washington from Monday to Wednesday, ministry spokesman Gao Feng said.

Under the "Phase 1" deal, Beijing agreed to buy more US agricultural products, and Washington's chief negotiator Robert Lighthizer said it would make changes to respond to complaints about its industrial policies. Details have not yet been announced and Chinese authorities have not yet confirmed regulatory changes or the size of US soybean purchases and other exports.

Both sides calmed financial market nervousness by announcing conciliatory measures, including the postponement of planned tariff increases. Beijing has also resumed purchases of soybeans, the largest US export to China, and pork.

Washington, Europe, Japan and other trading partners complain that Beijing steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over the technology. Washington is pressuring China to reverse its plans to create state-led global competitors in robotics and other industries that its trading partners say violate its market opening commitments.

President Donald Trump announced last month that he would sign the "Phase 1" deal on January 15 and would travel to Beijing thereafter to begin the second phase of the talks.

Trump hailed the interim agreement as a step towards the end of the tariff war, but Beijing was further measured in its public statements.

Economists say concluding a final deal could take years. Possible obstacles include China's insistence that US tariff increases be canceled as soon as an agreement enters into force. The Trump administration says some must stay there to ensure Beijing delivers on its promises.

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