China Press Conference and President Trump Tweets: Murky Phase 1 Update

Posted on 12/13/2019 9:56 AM

Nothing is clear until actual text of Phase 1 accord is released

Highlights of China press event including Wang Shouwen, China’s vice commerce minister

  • Major progress achieved on first phase of trade discussions.
  • We have agreed on context of first phase deal.
  • U.S. will follow up on its promise to cancel tariffs on a phased basis.
  • Deal further protects interests of foreign firms.
  • Presser did not lay out any commitments regarding farm product purchases
  • China to import more wheat, corn after the deal: Vice Minister of Ag. Imports of U.S. farm products will not create shocks to the domestic industry.
  • The agreement includes a commitment by Beijing to buy more American agriculture products and to strengthen laws protecting foreign companies operating in China, as well as beefing up intellectual property rules and providing more transparency around currency movements. Wang said both sides have agreed to complete legal reviews as quickly as possible and that an official signing was still being worked out.
  • China says negotiation on Phase 2 depends on implementation of Phase 1.
  • Officials in Beijing said the agreement was designed to boost confidence in global markets and would pave the way for more U.S. services and products to enter China.
  • Chinese officials said legal checks on the final text still had to be made.

MEANWHILE... President Donald Trump tweets

  • Trump says have reached trade deal with China; says China "agreed to many structural changes and massive purchases of agricultural product, energy and manufactured goods"
  • “We have agreed to a very large Phase One Deal with China. They have agreed to many structural changes and massive purchases of Agricultural Product, Energy, and Manufactured Goods, plus much more. The 25% Tariffs will remain as is, with 7 1/2% put on much of the remainder....563 1.5K 4.5K Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
  • “....The Penalty Tariffs set for December 15th will not be charged because of the fact that we made the deal. We will begin negotiations on the Phase Two Deal immediately, rather than waiting until after the 2020 Election. This is an amazing deal for all. Thank you!”

ANALYSIS/PERSPECTIVE: Both countries appear to be negotiating in public via various press statements or tweets. Nothing should be seen as official until actual text is released, if it is. And recall that U.S. officials, including President Trump, on Oct. 11 said an agreement in principle was reached regarding Phase 1. That now was misleading if not simply untrue. China today gave no confirmation of dollar specifics regarding purchases of U.S. farm products. Some advisers to the White House said China had agreed to buy $50 billion worth of American farm products next year but China has so far not confirmed that figure and the United States Trade Representative did not provide an official figure in its statement. “The Phase 1 agreement also includes a commitment by China that it will make substantial additional purchases of U.S. goods and services in the coming years,” the U.S. Trade Representative's office said today.


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