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U.S. and China to Ease, but not End, Trade War Next Week

President Trump says he and Chinese officials will sign a Phase One trade agreement at the White House on January 15 that will de-escalate the Sino-U.S. tariff war that began in earnest in mid-2018. The agreement obligates China to buy up to $50 billion a year in U.S. farm exports, more than four times the sales level forecast for this year, according to U.S. officials, but details have not been released.

A Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He plans to arrive in Washington on January 13 for the signing, which Trump announced unilaterally on social media on December 31, said the South China Morning Post on Sunday. “Trump is trying to take full credit for the Phase One deal as a major ‘win’ for the U.S. and for himself, but the Chinese, although eager to sign the deal to ensure stability, have been less inclined to make a major show.”

“High-level representatives of China will be present. At a later date, I will be going to Beijing where talks will begin on Phase Two!” tweeted Trump. The White House has not issued a formal announcement of the signing ceremony or a date when a new round of trade talks would begin. Under Phase One, the United States will forgo a new round of tariffs on Chinese products but maintain them on $360 billion worth of imports. China would step up purchases of U.S. manufactured, agricultural, and energy products, as well as services. A White House announcement of the agreement did not mention removal of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports.

A week ago, China approved the import of two varieties of genetically modified soybeans and papaya, a sign of warmer relations between the nations, reported Reuters. The U.S. has pressed China for years to act more rapidly in its reviews of GM crops. America is a leader in GM crops and China is the world’s largest importer of two crops – soybeans and cotton – that are grown from genetically engineered seeds, for the most part, in America. In late December, China reduced its tariffs on imported pork due to an epidemic that devastated its domestic hog herd, said The Washington Post.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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