Chinese, U.S. negotiators to sign trade deal

January 12, 2020


Move has potential to promote dialogue in specific areas, reset ties, experts say


China's top trade negotiator will visit Washington next week to sign the phase one deal with his counterparts in the United States, an encouraging sign for both sides to further reduce tensions.


At the invitation of the United States, Vice-Premier Liu He will visit the country from Monday to Wednesday to sign the economic and trade agreement with the U.S., Gao Feng, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said on Thursday at a news briefing in Beijing.


Liu is a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chief of the Chinese side of the China-U.S. comprehensive economic dialogue.


The negotiating teams are in close contact about the specific arrangements for signing the agreement, Gao said.

Experts said the move has the potential to push both sides to conduct other meaningful talks in specific areas and to reset bilateral ties if the deal can be adequately carried out.


The phase one deal could end the costly trade dispute and economic uncertainties in many parts of the world, said Wei Jianguo, vice-chairman of Beijing-based China Center for International Economic Exchanges. He stressed that it is critical and necessary for both sides to seal the deal right, rather than in a rush.


Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation and former U.S. ambassador to Cambodia told Xinhua News Agency, "Once they have successfully concluded part of an agreement, negotiators are often encouraged to work harder to find ways to put in place the terms for a second or third part."


China and the U.S. together account for 40 percent of global GDP, nearly 40 percent of global manufacturing output and around 25 percent of the world's total trade volume, according to the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.


Affected by the 22-month-long trade tussle, China's trade with the U.S. has dropped 11.1 percent year-on-year from January to November to 3.4 trillion yuan ($491.12 billion), while China's exports to the U.S. declined 8.4 percent to 2.64 trillion yuan. China's imports from the U.S. fell by 19.5 percent to about 763 billion yuan, according to the General Administration of Customs.


Alexa Dembek, senior vice-president of the Delaware-headquartered DuPont group, said cooperation is the best option for China and the U.S.. If the two countries do that, the world can prosper, she said; otherwise, the global economy will slow down.


Feike Sijbesma, chairman of the managing board of Netherlands-based Royal DSM, said the company has seen an impact on consumer confidence since the Sino-U.S. trade dispute escalated. That's had an influence on the automotive and electronic industries, he said.


"We believe that globalization builds on the core element of our economy: an exchange of specialized competencies. It has brought prosperity to many countries in the world and billions of people."


Regarding a new U.S. rule requiring companies from the U.S. to apply for a license when they export geospatial imaging software powered by artificial intelligence to other countries (with the exception of Canada), the Commerce Ministry's Gao urged the U.S. to correct its inappropriate practice of generalizing national security and abusing export control measures. It should create favorable conditions for companies around the world to trade and build partnerships, he said.


The rule from the U.S. Commerce Department comes as it works to tighten exports on sensitive technology to potential rivals, including China. It took effect on Monday.


Restricting or otherwise interfering with regular international cooperation will not only harm the interests of businesses, including U.S. companies, but will also raise market concerns about the trade, investment and innovation environment of the U.S. and affect the stability of the global industrial chain, Gao said.