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First phase of US-China trade deal to be signed on Jan 15

Phase 1 agreement to be signed at White House on Jan 15, says US leader

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA : The first phase of a US-China trade agreement will be inked at the White House in mid-January, President Donald Trump said on Tuesday, adding that he will visit Beijing at a later date to open another round of talks aimed at resolving other sticking points in the relationship.

The so-called phase one agreement is smaller than the comprehensive deal Mr Trump had hoped for and leaves many of the thorniest issues between the two countries for future talks. Few economists expect any resolution of phase two before the presidential election this year.

And the two sides have yet to release detailed documentation of the pact, making it difficult to evaluate.

Mr Trump said high-level Chinese government officials will attend the signing on Jan 15 of "our very large and comprehensive phase one trade deal with China".

"At a later date I will be going to Beijing where talks will begin on phase two," Mr Trump said in his tweet.

He did not announce a date for the visit.

China has agreed to boost its US goods imports by US$200 billion (S$270 billion) over two years, the US Trade Representative said on Dec 13 when the deal was announced. That includes increased purchases of soya beans and other farm goods that would reach US$40 billion a year.

China has also agreed to stop forcing US companies to hand over technology and trade secrets as a condition for gaining access to China's vast market, demands that had frustrated many US businesses.

In return, the Trump administration dropped plans to impose tariffs on US$160 billion of Chinese goods, including many consumer items such as smartphones, toys and clothes.

The US also cut tariffs on another US$112 billion of Chinese goods from 15 per cent to 7.5 per cent.

A study last week by economists at the US Federal Reserve found that all of the Trump administration's tariffs, including those on steel and aluminium as well as on Chinese imports, have cost manufacturers jobs and raised their costs.

That is mostly because of retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and other trading partners.

Still, the agreement has helped calm concerns in financial markets and among many US businesses that the trade war with China would escalate and lead to a recession. - AP

BUSINESS & FINANCE