Washington: US President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He have signed a deal cutting some US tariffs on Chinese goods in exchange for Chinese pledges to purchase more US goods and services and address complaints about intellectual property practices.
Liu He, China’s vice premier, left, listens as Robert Lighthizer, US trade representative, speaks during a signing ceremony for the U.S.-China “phase-one” trade agreement with President Donald Trump in Washington, DC. Credit:Bloomberg
Here's a summary of the key points, based on details released by the office of the US Trade Representative. China has not yet released its own account.
China agreed to increase purchases of American products and services by at least $US200 billion ($289 billion) over the next two years, with increased imports of US goods and services to "continue on this same trajectory for several years after 2021."
That means China's imports of US manufactured goods, such as industrial machinery, electrical equipment, pharmaceutical products, aircraft, vehicles, optical and medical instruments, iron and steel, solar-grade polysilicon, hardwood lumber, and chemical products, among other goods, will total at least $US120.0 billion in 2020 and at least $US131.9 billion in 2021.
China's imports of energy products from the United States, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), crude oil, and metallurgical coal, will total at least $US30.1 billion in 2020 and at least $US45.5 billion in 2021.
Its take-up of US services, such as financial services, insurance services, cloud services, and travel services, will total at least $US99.9 billion in 2020 and at least $US112.2 billion in 2021.
China's agricultural purchases such as soybeans, cotton, grains, meats, ethanol, seafood, and the full range of other agricultural products will total at least $US80 billion over the next two years. China will also strive to purchase an additional $US5 billion of agricultural products annually.
As part of the agreement, the United States will cut by half the tariff rate it imposed on September 1 on a $US120 billion list of Chinese goods, to 7.5 per cent.
US tariffs of 25 per cent on $US250 billion worth of Chinese goods put in place earlier will remain immediately unchanged.
These remaining US tariffs could be removed once the two sides conclude a Phase 2 trade agreement, Donald Trump said on Wednesday.
Tariffs that were scheduled to go into effect on December 15 on nearly $US160 billion worth of Chinese goods, including mobile phones, laptop computers, toys and clothing, are suspended indefinitely.
China's retaliatory December 15 tariffs, including a 25 per cent tariff on US-made autos, have also been suspended.
The deal includes stronger Chinese legal protections for patents, trademarks, copyrights, including improved criminal and civil procedures to combat online infringement, pirated and counterfeit goods.
It contains commitments by China to follow through on previous pledges to eliminate any pressure for foreign companies to transfer technology to Chinese firms as a condition of market access, licensing or administrative approvals and to eliminate any government advantages for such transfers.
The currency agreement contains pledges by China to refrain from competitive currency devaluations and to avoid manipulating exchange rates for competitive advantage – language that China has accepted for years as part of its commitments to the Group of 20 major economies.
Any violations would be subject to the enforcement mechanism for the overall deal, and could trigger tariffs.
China financial services
US officials said the deal includes improved access to China's financial services market for US companies, including in banking, insurance, securities and credit rating services. It aims to address a number of longstanding US complaints about investment barriers in the sector, including foreign equity limitations and discriminatory regulatory requirements.
The United States and China will resolve differences over how the deal is implemented through bilateral consultations, starting at the working level and escalating to top-level officials.
If these consultations do not resolve disputes, there is a process for imposing tariffs or other penalties.
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