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Phase One' China trade deal on Jan. 15

Donald Trump says he will sign 'Phase One' China trade deal on Jan. 15

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – President Donald Trump said Tuesday he will sign a "Phase One" trade deal with China on Jan. 15, and plans to visit China soon to start talks on a "Phase Two."

"I will be signing our very large and comprehensive Phase One Trade Deal with China on January 15," Trump tweeted. "The ceremony will take place at the White House. High-level representatives of China will be present."

He added that "at a later date I will be going to Beijing where talks will begin on Phase Two!"

Trump and aides still have not provided documents detailing what the first phase of an overall agreement involves. Financial analysts said they are eager to see what is actually in the reportedly voluminous deal.    

"On phase one, the devil will be entirely in the details of what is apparently an 86-page agreement," said Chad Bown, a senior fellow with the Peterson Institute for International Economics. "I look forward to reading every single line."

Some financial analysts have questioned whether the proposed deal truly addresses what they called China's unfair trade tactics.

Others said the agreement will at least de-escalate the U.S.-China tariff war that has spooked investors and slowed the world economy.

Trump announced the planned signing just minutes before financial markets in the U.S. opened for the final day of the year. Markets dropped slightly in early trading.

When Trump and Chinese officials announced the phase one agreement in mid-December, the U.S. agreed to shelve plans to impose new tariffs on $160 billion of Chinese goods that had been set to take effect Dec. 15.

Officials said the deal includes gradual reductions of other tariffs and increased Chinese purchases of U.S. agricultural products, but neither side has published a specific document.

Analysts questioned whether the deal meaningfully addresses U.S. demands that China drop requirements that companies provide intellectual property and technology secrets to the government as conditions of doing business there – key points in any overall trade agreement between the United States and China.


Peter Navarro, a White House trade adviser, told CNBC that the opening phase does crack down on intellectual property theft, and should be pleasing to banks, insurance companies and credit card companies.

“It’s got great stuff in it,” he said.

The South China Morning Post reported Monday that Vice-Premier Liu He, China's top trade negotiator, is planning to lead a delegation to Washington for the first phase signing ceremony.

Phil Levy, a former White House official who is now chief economist of Flexport, a company that  arranges and finances trade between 109 countries, said the phase one proposal is "certainly better than ever-escalating tariffs that hurt American businesses and consumers."

The details of substance that have emerged, however, seem "disappointing relative to the range of problems we have with China," Levy said. "There is also a problematic move toward managed trade, with the purchase commitments. We have yet to see all the specifics, though."