‘Phase one’ of China tariff relief could happen this week

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Multiple news sources reported that President Trump yesterday approved a tentative U.S.-China trade deal. It has raised hopes that there might be an end to the nearly two-year trade conflict that has cost U.S. businesses and consumers billions of dollars. Dozens of U.S. marine companies have been damaged by the trade war.

According to the The Washington Post, Trump signed an agreement that would reduce tariffs on goods imported from China in return for that country spending $50 billion on U.S. farm goods, tightening intellectual property protections and opening its financial services markets.

“It’s a breakthrough,” Michael Pillsbury, a China expert at the Hudson Institute told The Post. “He says it’s historic. I certainly agree with that.” A senior administration official confirmed Pillsbury’s characterization.

“We are grateful that the U.S. and China reached an initial deal to de-escalate the trade war, which cancels a range of tariffs on marine products that were scheduled to take effect over the weekend and slashes in half existing tariffs on boat components, materials and parts, Nicole Vasilaros, NMMA senior vice president of government and legal affairs, told Trade Only Today. “While several of the agreement’s details remain under wraps, including when the existing tariffs will be rolled back, we thank the negotiating teams for moving this conflict in a positive direction and urge the Trump administration to provide more clarity as soon as possible."

The agreement is limited in scope, according to media sources. The two countries have been working to meet a Sunday deadline, when new U.S. tariffs on $160 billion in Chinese goods were set to go into effect. The increase will not happen, according to Pillsbury, and tariffs on $360 billion in Chinese imports will be reduced.

The Chinese government did not comment on the reports.

The Post reported that the “phase one” agreement does not solve any of the “thorniest issues” in the U.S.-China trade dispute. China’s massive subsidies for state enterprises and practice of forcing foreign companies to surrender technology secrets in return for access to the Chinese market will be the subject of “phase two” of the talks.

Pillsbury said Trump told him in a phone call yesterday that he expects those negotiations to run past the November 2020 election.

“This deal is not the finish line, and the recreational boating industry will celebrate only after all tariffs on more than 400 commonly used marine items are lifted," Vasilaros said. "It is vital that the administration capitalizes on this first step and strikes a comprehensive agreement that eliminates tariffs and puts American businesses and workers on a level playing field."

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