US-China ‘partial’ trade deal sees tariff rise halted, progress on technology transfers

Teddy Ng

As negotiators from China and the United States wrapped up two days of talks in Washington on Friday, US President Donald Trump said the two sides had reached a “substantial” partial trade deal that would delay the imposition of additional tariffs on Chinese goods.

The announcement of the “phase one” agreement – which Trump said would take three to five weeks to draw up and provide a catalyst for a second stage – was well received by US stock markets, all of which ended the day up more than 1 per cent.

Here’s what made them happy:

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He ended his Washington trip with a meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House on Friday. Photo: Reuters

New tariffs postponed

The US agreed to suspend a 5 percentage point increase that was set to take effect on Tuesday and would have raised the tariff on US$250 billion worth of Chinese goods to 30 per cent.

However, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said a decision had yet to be made on whether fresh duties of 15 per cent on US$160 billion of mostly consumer products that were scheduled to take effect in December would also be paused.

Trade war talks ‘constructive’ but there could be trouble ahead

More transparency on financial services

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he had held “very good discussions” with China’s central bank governor Yi Gang on the opening up of China’s financial services market.

“We have an agreement around transparency into the foreign exchange markets and free markets. So we’re very pleased with that,” he said.

In August Washington named Beijing a currency manipulator, but Mnuchin hinted that the move might be reversed if the two sides reached a deal.

“We’ll be making a decision on that and evaluating it,” he said. “Although I would comment that, assuming we close the agreement and we have the assurances, that will be a big step in the right direction for our evaluation.”

China has agreed to buy an extra US$40 billion to US$50 billion worth of American agricultural products. Photo: Reuters

China to buy more US agricultural products

After Liu and his team agreed to China buying an extra US$40 billion to US$50 billion worth of American agricultural products, Trump advised US farmers to “immediately buy more land and get bigger tractors”.

“The other thing I will say is, over the last two weeks, a lot of purchases have started going back to our farmers. And you’ve been doing a lot of business with us, which we appreciate very much,” the president said. “But it really started a few weeks ago, but they intend to go up, ultimately, once the agreement is signed, from US$40 to US$50 billion.”

New soybean could make China more self-reliant

Progress on technology transfers

Trump said the two sides had made good progress on the issue of technology transfers, though he did not elaborate.

“We’ll have some technology transfer in the agreement, but technology transfer will largely be done here and also in phase two,” the president said.

Issues related to Chinese telecom giant Huawei – which was put on an export blacklist in May – were not part of the agreement.

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