Daily Management Review

Phase-One US-China Trade Deal ‘Totally Done’, Says US Trade Chief Robert Lighthizer


In a further relief to the global markets, the United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced on Sunday that the “phase one” US-China trade deal is “totally done” and added that this interim deal will almost double US exports to China over the next two years.
However, the work of translation and revisions to its text is still pending.
There would be some routine “scrubs” to the text but “this is totally done, absolutely”, Lighthizer said while speaking on CBS’ Face the Nation program.
The setting of the date and location for the singing of the agreement by senior US and Chinese officials is yet to be decided upon, Lighthizer said.
The two largest economies of the world have been engaged in a tit-for-tat trade war for more than two and a half years with negotiations being held off and on between the US and China. And even this deal is an interim one as more contentious issues are yet to be resolved, will provide some relief and easing of tensions of the trade war as the US will scale down some of its tariffs on Chinese goods while China has pledged to increase its purchases of American farm, manufactured and energy products by almost $200 billion in the next two years.
The deal also contains a pledge from China to take measures for better protection of intellectual property of the American companies, to suspend the forced transfer of American technology to their local Chinese partners as a precondition for accessing the Chinese market, allow greater access to American companies to the Chinese financial services market and not engaging in currency manipulation.
Lighthizer said that over the next two years, it is expected that the total value of purchases of US agricultural products by China will increase between $40 billion and US$50 billion annually. In 2017, before the two countries got entangled in the trade war, the US exported about $24 billion worth of its farm products to China. The two countries started to tread the path of trade war since in July of 2018.
However the decision that the officials in Beijing take will determine the success of the deal, announced on Friday, Lighthizer said.
“Ultimately, whether this whole agreement works is going to be determined by who’s making the decisions in China, not in the United States,” Lighthizer said. “If the hardliners are making the decisions we’re going to get one outcome, if the reformers are making the decisions, which is what we hope, then we’re going to get another outcome.”
The phase one deal will leave a number of contentious issues in the trade relations between the US and China because of the problems of integrating China’s state-dominated economic system with the private ownership based US economic system will be a difficult tasks that will take years to get resolved, he said.
Friday was marked as the “most momentous day in trade history” by Lighthizer because of the China deal as well as because the revised US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, that will replace the current Nafta agreement, was sent to US Congress for voting for approval.  He said that $2 trillion in overall trade of the overall trade done by the US  is covered in the two deals.