Chinese team 'to visit US on Jan 13' for trade pact

BEIJING • A Chinese trade delegation is planning to travel to Washington on Jan 13 for the signing of the US-China Phase 1 trade deal, the South China Morning Post reported yesterday, citing a source briefed on the matter.

The Chinese delegation will return on Jan 16, SCMP said.

The trade delegation, led by Vice-Premier Liu He, had originally planned to set off earlier in the month, but had to change plans after US President Donald Trump sent a tweet claiming that he would sign the Phase 1 trade deal with China on Jan 15.

After a full afternoon's discussion, the Chinese side decided to revise their plan to accommodate Mr Trump, SCMP said.

Washington and Beijing have yet to officially confirm Mr Liu's visit.

Mr Trump had first announced plans for the initial trade pact last October, and US and Chinese negotiators spent weeks finalising the Phase 1 deal, which comes in lieu of the massive trade agreement that the world's two largest economies had initially sought.

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

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.

China also agreed to stop forcing US companies to hand over technology and trade secrets as a condition for gaining access to the vast Chinese 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 a further US$112 billion worth of Chinese goods - from 15 per cent to 7.5 per cent.

REUTERS, ASSOCIATED PRESS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2020, with the headline 'Chinese team 'to visit US on Jan 13' for trade pact'. Print Edition | Subscribe