China's trade deal commitments not changed in translation, says US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News Channel that the deal still calls for China to buy US$40 billion (S$54 billion) to US$50 billion worth of US agricultural products annually and a total of US$200 billion of US goods over two years.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News Channel that the deal still calls for China to buy US$40 billion (S$54 billion) to US$50 billion worth of US agricultural products annually and a total of US$200 billion of US goods over two years.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - China's commitments in the Phase One trade deal with the United States were not changed during a lengthy translation process and will be released this week as the document is signed in Washington, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday (Jan 12).

Mr Mnuchin told Fox News Channel that the deal reached on Dec 13 still calls for China to buy US$40 billion (S$54 billion) to US$50 billion worth of US agricultural products annually and a total of US$200 billion of US goods over two years.

"It wasn't changed in translation. I don't know where that rumor started," Mr Mnuchin said on the Sunday Morning Futures With Maria Bartiromo show.

"We have been going through a translation process that I think we said was really a technical issue," he said.

"And the language will be released this week. So I think it is - the day of the signing, we will be releasing the English version."

"And people can see. This is a very, very extensive agreement," he added.

White House officials had said as late as last Friday that the final Chinese text was not yet completed, even as invitations went out to more than 200 people for a Jan 15 signing event at the White House.

Asked if he still expected China to purchase US$40 billion to US$50 billion in US farm products under the deal, Mr Mnuchin said: "I do. Let me just say, it is US$200 billion of additional products across the board over the next two years, and, specifically in agriculture, US$40 billion to US$50 billion."

Thus far, Beijing has not confirmed those purchase commitments, and recent government actions in the agriculture industry have raised questions over the US$40 billion to US$50 billion target cited repeatedly by Trump administration officials.

 
 
 
 

Chinese officials have been careful not to publicly discuss details of the Phase One deal, because Washington has changed its position multiple times during negotiations, three Chinese officials with knowledge of the situation told Reuters last week.

The signing of the trade deal on Wednesday eases President Donald Trump's 18-month trade war aimed at altering China's trade and economic practices, but will leave in place tariffs on about US$370 billion worth of Chinese imports per year.

Those are expected to be addressed in Phase Two negotiations, which the Trump administration wants to launch this year, covering thornier issues untouched by the Phase One trade deal, including Beijing's heavy subsidies to Chinese state-owned enterprises and restrictions digital trade and cyber-security issues.