Lethbridge Herald

U.S., China to sign trade agreement


After 18 months of economic combat, the United States and China are set to take a step toward peace today. For now.

President Donald Trump and China’s chief negotiator, Liu He, are scheduled to sign a modest trade agreement in which the administra­tion will ease some sanctions on China and Beijing will step up its purchases of U.S. farm products and other goods. Above all, the deal will defuse a conflict that has slowed global growth, hurt American manufactur­ers and weighed on the Chinese economy.

But the so-called Phase 1 pact does little to force China to make the major economic reforms — such as reducing unfair subsidies for its own companies — that the Trump administra­tion sought when it started the trade war by imposing tariffs on Chinese imports in July 2018. The U.S. has yet to reveal details of the agreement, though U.S. Trade Representa­tive Robert Lighthizer has said they would be made public today.

Most analysts say any meaningful resolution of the key U.S. allegation — that Beijing uses predatory tactics in its drive to supplant America’s technologi­cal supremacy — could require years of contentiou­s talks. And skeptics say a satisfacto­ry resolution may be next to impossible given China’s ambitions to become the global leader in such advanced technologi­es as driverless cars and artificial intelligen­ce.

“The signing of the Phase 1 deal would represent a welcome, even if modest, deescalati­on of trade hostilitie­s between China and the U.S.,” said Eswar Prasad, former head of the Internatio­nal Monetary Fund’s China division.

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