Liu He to travel to US for trade deal signing

BEIJING • China yesterday announced that Vice-Premier Liu He will travel to Washington to sign the first phase of a trade deal with the US next week, locking in Beijing's commitment to a ceremony already announced by President Donald Trump.

Mr Liu, who has acted as Chinese President Xi Jinping's top trade negotiator throughout the tariff conflict with the US, will head the delegation visiting Washington from Jan 13 to 15, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said.

He said he has no more information to release about the trade talks, other than that the teams remain in close contact.

The statement is the first Chinese confirmation of the signing, which Mr Trump said would take place on Jan 15. Mr Trump has also said he will go to Beijing after the deal is inked to begin negotiations on the second phase.

Under the accord, announced last Dec 13, Mr Trump agreed to suspend plans for new tariffs on Chinese imports and reduced some existing levies, while Beijing agreed to increase agricultural purchases. The precise terms of the agreement have not been revealed. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has said he expects the 86-page document will be publicly released after it is signed.

The Chinese delegation will include People's Bank of China governor Yi Gang, Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, vice-minister of finance Liao Min, deputy chief of the National Development and Reform Commission Ning Jizhe, deputy international trade representative Wang Shouwen, and others, according to people familiar with the arrangements.

The move at least temporarily calms fears of an escalating trade war between the world's two largest economies, at a time when investors are nervous over conflict in the Middle East and rising oil prices.

BLOOMBERG

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2020, with the headline 'Liu He to travel to US for trade deal signing'. Print Edition | Subscribe