China’s vice premier to sign US trade deal in Washington

Beijing: China’s Vice Premier Liu He, who is leading trade war negotiations with the US, will visit Washington to sign an agreement for the first phase of a deal, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.

Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Gao Feng said Liu will visit the US capital between January 13-14, Efe news reported.

“The two teams have been engaging with each other closely about the text and the terms of that agreement,” Feng said.

The South China Morning Post on Monday had already reported the dates of Liu’s visit and that he will be leading the Chinese delegation, not President Xi Jinping, as was speculated earlier.

US President Donald Trump had said on December 31 that he would sign “very large and comprehensive Phase One Trade Deal with China,” at the White House in the presence of high-level representatives of Beijing on January 15.

“At a later date, I will be going to Beijing where talks will begin on Phase Two,” he added.

However, the Ministry of Commerce spokesperson on Thursday did not confirm Trump’s visit to China.

After nearly 18 months of trade conflict and the continuous escalation of tensions as a result of the tariff war, both countries announced in December 2019 that they had reached a partial agreement that includes gradual removal of tariffs imposed and that China would boost its import of American goods.

China’s Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Shouwen announced that the first-phase agreement addresses issues including technology transfer, intellectual property, trade expansion and the establishment of mechanisms for dispute resolution.

According to the agreement, the US will keep its 25 per cent tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, along with reduced charges of 7.5 per cent on additional imports worth $120 billion.

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