President Trump claims the U.S. has agreed to a “Phase One Deal” with China on trade, which the president says will lead to structural changes and agricultural product purchases, among other things. The president also announced tariffs on $160 billion in Chinese imports won’t go into effect on December 15.
The Trump administration had already claimed they reached a “phase one” deal with China in October, but the countries have now agreed on the text of such a deal. The president’s announcement came minutes after the House Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment, sending those articles to the House for a floor vote.
Mr. Trump also said negotiations will begin for a “Phase Two Deal immediately,” instead of after the 2020 presidential election. The Chinese are also holding a press conference to announce some sort of agreement.
“We have agreed to a very large Phase One Deal with China,” the president tweeted Friday morning, the president tweeted. “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….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!”
The president’s top economic adviser Larry Kudlow, however, said on CNBS he didn’t want to put a timeline on a second phase of an agreement. Kudlow told reporters on a conference call that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and a Chinese representative will sign the first phase of the deal “in a few weeks.”
The U.S. Trade Representative emphasized that they believe the agreement is enforceable, establishing a dispute resolution system.
“President Trump has focused on concluding a Phase One agreement that achieves meaningful, fully-enforceable structural changes and begins rebalancing the U.S.-China trade relationship. This unprecedented agreement accomplishes those very significant goals and would not have been possible without the President’s strong leadership,” Lighthizer said in a statement.
The U.S. will continue to maintain 25% tariffs on roughly $250 billion of Chinese imports, along with 7.5% tariffs on roughly $120 billion in Chinese imports, USTR said.
Interested parties outside the administration pointed to the timing of the announcement.
“We may never know if the decision by Democrats to impeach the President is what finally made him see religion on trade policy, which up until now was killing his election chances,” Chris Zaccarelli, chief Investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance, said in a note to investors after the president’s announcement of a China deal. “And if he is reelected next year, we may look back to today’s phase one agreement with China and point to today as the reason the economy and business confidence regained their footing and laid the groundwork for his reelection.”
On Thursday, the president teased the U.S. was “very close” to a trade deal with China, although he’s been using similar language for a long time.
“Getting VERY close to a BIG DEAL with China. They want it, and so do we!” the president tweeted Thursday morning.
Shortly after Mr. Trump made the announcement on Twitter Friday morning, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham wrote, “Take note @SpeakerPelosi — this is what real leadership looks like. President @realDonaldTrump never stops working and continues to make successful deals that benefit this country.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.