Trump: China trade pact first phase on track
US President Donald Trump said that progress in developing a partial trade agreement with China would likely mean that he will be able to sign it this month.
Trump remains upbeat about the chances of Beijing and Washington sealing the mini-deal he announced earlier this month-marking a period of cooling-off in the brutal trade war between the two nations.
“We’ll be able to, we hope, sign a completed contract with China on step one,” Trump said at the White House.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said negotiations were “on track” to commit the deal to paper ahead of next month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Chile, although some work remains to be done.
“Our target is to have the phase one deal by the time you go to Chile,” Lighthizer told Trump.
Trump said when he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he expects to sign the partial deal on the sidelines of the summit.
Although specifics remain scarce, the new mini-deal includes a rise in Chinese purchases of American agricultural products and also involves, according to the White House, intellectual property, financial services and currency exchange.
Trump said the Chinese “have started the buying.” on Monday. China sounded a positive note at a defence forum held in Beijing, with the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs saying they wanted “China-US relations based on coordination, cooperation and stability.” With hundreds of billions of dollars in two-way trade now subject to additional tariffs, the trade war is on the rise with signs of an increasing trade war.
“We don’t approve the tactic of brandishing the baton of tariffs at every turn and exerting maximum pressure on China,” said Le Yucheng, China’s Deputy Foreign Minister.
“This strategy is old thinking and will not succeed.” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said earlier on Monday that next month the U.S. side won’t rush to sign on the dotted line.
“We would like to make a deal,” Ross said Monday to Fox Business.
“But from our point of view, it has to be the right deal, and it doesn’t have to be in November.” While the White House said the “phase one” deal touches on significant issues, Ross said the heaviest lifting remains to be done.
“The real question is, do we get to an early signing of phase one?” said Ross, who is not a member of the U.S. trade talks delegation.
“Second, how far do we get toward phase two or two and three? Two and three are really where the meat is.”