What does American business call the US-China trade deal? A start

18-Jan-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

A day after the United States and China signed a long-anticipated phase one trade agreement, American industry leaders were urging talks for the next phase to begin a clear sign that a more comprehensive deal is seen as needed.

Most farm and business groups acknowledged Wednesday’s deal, which came after 18 months of a tit-for-tat tariff war, was a move in the right direction. But they expressed concerns that the majority of tariffs would remain in place until the next phase of the trade agreement is reached.

During the weeks leading up to the signing ceremony on Wednesday, US President Donald Trump said he is ready to start a new round of talks right away, but Chinese vice-Premier Liu He, Beijing’s lead negotiator, has shown little enthusiasm, saying Beijing has little interest in immediately starting negotiations on a phase two deal.

In a tweet on Thursday, Trump said that “we are now in a great position for a Phase Two start”, without elaborating about when those talks might start or what they might cover.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthiser deflected questions on Wednesday about when phase two talks would start, saying that the first priority for both countries was to institute the current commitments.

In response to the uncertainty, the US Chamber of Commerce, which represents three million companies across American industry, urged “both parties to begin negotiations on phase two as soon as possible”.

Thomas Donohue, the chamber’s chief executive, said a phase two deal is necessary “to address significant concerns in the areas of subsidies, digital trade and data discrimination, and non-tariff barriers to US manufacturers and service providers”.

US Treasury Department and the Office of the US Trade Representative didn’t immediate respond to requests seeking comment about phase two negotiations.

Industry groups representing US consumer goods, energy, services and technology firms all sectors poised to reap the benefits from China’s commitment in Wednesday’s deal to buy an additional $200 billion in US goods and services over two years have also asked the Trump administration to kick-start a new round of trade negotiations.

Retailers urged the administration to start phase two negotiations quickly, because, as Blake Harden, vice president of international trade at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said, they sought the “certainty and predictability needed to plan and invest while operating in a global economy”.

Harden added: “While this agreement offers some relief, retailers ultimately want a long-term deal that rolls back all tariffs.”

The association represents 200 retailers, manufacturers and service providers, including Apple and Nike.

Mike Sommers, president and chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute, also pressed for trade talks to continue despite the phase one deal including China’s commitment to purchase $52.4 billion more of liquefied natural gas, crude oil, refined products and coal in 2020 and 2021.

“We encourage the administration to stay at the negotiating table until the US-China marketplace for energy trade is fully restored and all remaining tariffs are lifted including US tariffs on imports of industrial components used in our industry and Chinese retaliatory tariffs on US energy exports,” he said.

Christine Bliss, president of the Coalition of Service Industries, said her group felt there was much a second-phase deal could address: “We strongly encourage US negotiators to work towards dismantling the tariffs that remain on many Chinese goods relevant to the American services economy.”

“And we believe it is critical that bilateral discussions begin as soon as possible on a more comprehensive phase-two deal that would address a broader slate of trade barriers affecting services industries.”

Technology industry leaders commended phase one’s push to have China improve its intellectual property protections and to end forced technology transfers. China has until February 14 to publish new rules for IP protections.

But they were also quick to note that the agreement did not address key concerns and that the remaining tariffs would continue to interfere with supply chains, drive up costs and hurt market access for tech companies.

Jason Oxman, president and chief executive at the Information Technology Industry Council, a trade organisation for the tech sector, credited “the Trump administration for reaching this important moment”.

However, Oxman, who attended the deal’s signing at the White House, then urged “both negotiating teams to work expeditiously on phase two”.

“We hope both countries use the positive momentum from today’s signing ceremony to reach a substantive, lasting final deal that meaningfully addresses the remaining long-standing issues that US companies face in the Chinese market,” he said on Wednesday.

Other US tech groups noted that the phase one deal did not address cybertheft or the Chinese tariffs still hampering their industry.

“Market uncertainty remains until we see permanent tariff removal,” said Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Technology Association. The group said it hoped phase two “will eliminate special tariffs on Chinese imports once and for all”.


Category: China

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